08/02/2006

Shepherds Abiding

This is the eighth book in Jan Karon's 'Mitford' series. It's shorter than the majority: less than 300 pages, and print well spaced out, so I read it in less than two days.

It's a bit of a novelty book rather than an important one in the Mitford story; Christmas is approaching, and the retired Episcopal priest Father Tim spots a rather scruffy set of plaster nativity figures in the antique shop. Hoping to surprise his wife, he enlists the help of a couple of friends and sets to work to repair and paint the figures for Christmas.

We meet old friends from Mitford: Uncle Billy, trying to figure out what on earth to give his crotchety wife for Christmas; Percy and Velma, about to give up The Grill and retire, Lew Boyd who has married someone from another state in secret... and many more. The author cleverly weaves in and out of their lives, also including some of Father Tim's positive reminiscences from his childhood, as he finally comes to terms with some of the problems he carried around, due to his father's apparent harshness and high expectations.

Quite a pleasant book, if a bit 'sappy', but not really one to read alone, nor a vital part of the Mitford series for someone reading the longer books.

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