|Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good,|
By Jan Karon
Series: A Mitford Novel (Book 10)
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (September 2, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
ABOUT THE BOOK
In SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD, Mitford’s engaging locals are back, from retired Episcopal priest Father Timothy Kavanagh and his intuitive wife Cynthia, to his loyal canine companion, Barnabas, and an eclectic mix of friends, neighbors and long-lost family. Now a few years into retirement, seventysomething Father Tim is feeling a bit unsettled, “trying to hammer out what retirement is for” while struggling with the realities of this new role. After a lifetime devoted to fixing things, he’s at loose ends and afraid he’s lost his passion.
But thanks to his earnest, forward-thinking wife and the town’s colorful residents, he discovers that there is still much to be done in Mitford, even if his job status has changed. His adopted son Dooley needs guidance as he and his fiancée learn to live with the scars of the past and forge a new life together. Dooley’s younger brother Sammy, still angry over his mother’s abandonment, is one stumble away from disaster. And the uncertainty of taking the offer of another pulpit sends Father Tim in another direction entirely. Happy Endings bookstore owner Hope Murphy urgently needs the priest’s helping hands in her shop as well as his deepest prayers for a healthy, happy ending to a dangerous pregnancy.
But above that, what each of them wants and needs is the very thing a wounded young Cynthia Kavanagh had yearned for years earlier: to be somewhere safe with somebody good. Her prayers were answered when a hard-working sixty-two-year bachelor priest proposed during a spectacular sunset. Mitford’s residents ask for nothing less as they navigate life’s twists and turns, offering powerful lessons for us all.
Part love story, part calming character study, SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD is an enchanting reminder of the shared values that hold communities together—if we open our hearts and embrace them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jan Karon is the author of the bestselling series of nine Mitford novels featuring Father Timothy Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest, and the fictional village of Mitford. She is also the author of thirteen other books, including adult fiction, a cookbook and several books for children. She lives near Monticello, Virginia.
WITH SOMEBODY GOOD
1. After a nine-year hiatus, what prompted the return to Mitford now?
My readers were wild to go back to Mitford. The general consensus was: Holly Springs, fine. County Sligo, fine. Now let’s go back to Mitford. Thankfully, I was curious, myself. What was going on in the lives of characters I had lived with for twenty years? I was occasionally homesick for the place. Conclusion: Never say never.
2. Unlike many bestsellers today, you’ve said that your books have “no cussin’ no murder and no mayhem.” Given the state of popular culture, what makes your books so popular?
When I began writing the series, I was dedicated to keeping it clean. That’s the way I like it, and I thought a few people might agree. Actually, millions agree, which, in the end, is no surprise. Having traveled the country many times over, I find people everywhere to be basically decent, kindhearted, affectionate, helpful, funny, ready for a laugh, a cry—and for the assurance that God really does love us. I am here to encourage, console, and create a safe place between the covers of a book.
3. Who is your typical reader? Has that changed over the twenty years you’re been writing novels?
My typical reader is the same as Charles Dickens’s typical reader. The demographic is every age and both sexes. Entire families read my work. Couples read the Mitford series aloud to each other. Young couples have told me “you have saved our marriage.” (This is astonishing, as I have no clue how to save a marriage.) My work is read in homeschools, public schools, and retirement communities. I get mail from medical doctors, bishops, librarians (yay for librarians), and lots of mail from people who have read the series many times over.
4. You made a dramatic shift at midlife, trading an established career in advertising for a fresh start as a novelist. What advice would you give others mulling a major career—or even life—change?
Looking a life change in the face is mighty scary. But I’ve always been a risk taker, and I vote for doing two things: Pray first. Then make your move. Writing the Mitford series was a huge life change for me. I focused my prayers for two years, kept a journal, was often half-frozen with fear, then came the day when I knew it was safe to step out, move on, take the risk to do what I was born to do—write books. Would I make any money doing this? For two years, it was touch and go. The country was in an economic decline (not so serious as the current one), but hard times, nonetheless. The message to my heart was clear: Keep going and don’t look back, I am with you. Know that you can do this, but the knowing must come from the heart as well as the head. And you will do far better if you partner with the One who loved us first.
5. Your books are brimming with quotable quotes, both sacred and secular. Do you have a favorite? Your top 5?
I collect quotes like a child collects butterflies. They are everywhere, absolutely flying around in the air and I am after them with a net. I don’t usually collect from other quote collections, finding that the easy way. A great favorite, on which I feasted for many a moon in the early years of my work, is from Goethe: “Whatever you would do, begin it. Boldness has courage, genius and magic in it.” This is the best if read over and over again, letting the great truth of it sink in. My sworn favorite is from a 16th-century poet: “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” A glorious truth.
6. What and who inspires your stories?
Everybody inspires my stories. Every experience, every smell, fallen leaf, risen moon, setting sun—it is all a wonder to me and has been this way all my life. I was a country girl, which I think was a benefit, and, like my beloved grandmother, Miss Fannie, I actually love people.
7. What makes Father Tim so easy to be with and write about?
Hey, when I started writing about Fr. Tim, I found him on the boring side. Too nice, maybe. Bland, but as we worked together, I got to know him better. He became deeper and so did the author. He suffered and so did the author. We embarked on a life together, and I began to find him trustworthy, funny, sensitive, loving, thoughtful of others, lacking a bit in self-esteem, hungry for love but scared of it, and with fewer defenses than the rest of us. Agatha Christie wrote 60 books and stories about Poirot and said at the end, “I never really cared for that little man.” I find this hilarious, but must tell you that I care very much for my man, and thus have devoted, to date, twenty years of my life telling his story.
8. Is there a story behind the title, SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD?
Cynthia got the notion that they should write love letters again, as they did when courting. So around the time of their ninth anniversary, she posed this to Fr. Tim. He did NOT want to do it, but she gave him a blast of those cornflower blue eyes and what could he say? In her first love letter to him, she said she had longed since childhood to be “somewhere safe with somebody good.” I was really looking for a title, as I like to have one upfront. So far, one had not come my way. But there it was, hooray, in her small, almost childlike handwriting. I am always ecstatic when I find the perfect title, one that distills the meaning of 400 pages into a single line.
9. Are any of your characters based on real folks in your former home of Blowing Rock, North Carolina?
I hate to break the hearts of almost every dear soul who lives in Blowing Rock, but honestly, there are no characters drawn specifically from real people. Harley Welch was perhaps inspired, however loosely, by a house painter. Fr. Tim has a few traits of a former priest in that he loves music, grows roses and can cook. And let’s see. Maybe my sis-in-law’s housekeeper was kind of, sort of, a run-up to Puny.
10. Did you inherit a gift for storytelling or was it a craft you chose to develop?
My grandmother was a fabulous storyteller who could talk until you simply could not hold your poor head up. I loved her stories, especially the one about killing a chicken hawk with a six-foot wing span, with her bare hands. The last of the pioneers! Plus, PLUS—I am Irish on my father’s side, which should answer that question right there.
11. You’ve said that you choose to write about the light side and that it’s as authentic and powerful as the dark side. What do you mean by that?
I mean that yes, life can be bleak, dark, grievous and desperate. I mean that life can also be full of the possible, the joyful, the soulful, the kind, the divine. There is a dark side to the moon and a bright side. I choose to operate mainly on the bright side, though at times the moon shows its dark side in Mitford. I try for a reasonable, lifelike blend of the two sides.
12. What’s next for Mitford? Is there another novel in the works? What’s ahead for Father Tim Kavanagh?
I have no idea what is ahead for Fr. Tim until I sit down to the keyboard and find out. More later, and thanks.
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My ThoughtsSomewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon is the tenth book in the every so popular Mitford Series. The novel continues where she left off with the lives of Episcopal priest Father Timothy Kavanah, his beautiful wife Cynthia, their son Dooley and the many memorable characters of Mitford, North Carolina. And, let's not forget Barnabas the dog and Violet the cat!
I was thrilled to become part of the blog tour and to share the newest novel with her long time fans and to introduce the book to possible new fans. Even though I was not familiar with the original Mitford Series by Jan Karon I did not find it hard to carry on as if I had read the other books . I like how she juggles back and forth with sharing in the lives of Father Tim and the rest of their Mitford family and friends.
The novel is very much Christian with faith, family and values but not preachy. There are several prayers throughout the novel. The only negative I can find is that there are a few curse words but they are minor ones.
I believe fans will continue to love the Mitford Series with Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon and she will gather many more with the newest novel.
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Disclaimer: Loving Heart Designs received a complimentary copy of Jan Karon's, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good through Putnam.