Prather’s Pick: “To Be Where You Are” offers more adventures in the town of Mitford

Diane Prather/For Craig Press
Prather's Pick

I’ve been a fan of Jan Karon’s novels for quite awhile, so I was excited to find “To Be Where You Are,” her latest novel, among the new books at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries. Karon has written 14 novels in the Mitford series, all about Father Kavanagh and the other charming residents of the small town of Mitford.

You may remember from my review of another of Karon’s novels that inspiration for the Mitford books came when she was lying in bed and saw in her imagination a priest walking down a street to a young boy and a dog.

That priest became Father Kavanagh, the boy became Dooley and the dog was Barnabas. Father Kavanagh eventually married a woman named Cynthia and adopted Dooley, and Barnabas was his companion.

Throughout the series, the reader gets to know all the town’s characters and follow their adventures —some humorous, some sad, but all heartwarming. Even if you haven’t read the other books in the series, you will still be able to get into this newest novel, but I bet you’ll be hunting up the other books.

Father Kavanagh has been retired for 12 years, but the citizens of Mitford still rely on him for anything and everything.

“The possibilities for a priest, albeit retired were virtually endless,” reads a passage from the novel.

So, when a prominent citizen dies, and Father Brad, Father Kavanagh’s replacement, is out of town, it falls to the retired priest to take over. When J.C. Hogan, publisher of the “Mitford Muse,” runs a special edition about the death, citizens are puzzled. Just who died anyway?

When Esther Cummingham, former mayor of Mitford, decides to run for mayor again (she’s 89 years old), she calls the father. She wants him to find a special place for her in the Christmas parade.

And, when Avis Packard, who owns the grocery store, comes down with pneumonia and can’t run his business, guess who takes over to save the store? Father Kavanagh doesn’t know a thing about running a grocery business, but he does it anyway. At least one citizen comments she didn’t realize he needed the money. After all, the father’s wife, Cynthia, is the illustrator of children’s books.

The focus of Karon’s previous book, “Come Rain or Come Shine,” was on Dooley, who went to school and became a veterinarian, purchased Meadowgate Farm from the previous vet, married longtime girlfriend Lace, bought five Red Angus heifers and a bull named Choo-Choo and started his own veterinary practice. Whew! And that’s not all; Dooley and Lace take in a foster child named Jack.

In this newest novel, Dooley and Lace face a crisis. They have to put made numerous improvements to the veterinary hospital — at least $10,000 worth. However, there are good things, too. They will adopt Jack before Christmas, with a big party to celebrate. There’s a big surprise in store for them, too.

Usually, I read a novel in lightening speed, then regret that I didn’t take the time to savor the plot. So, I decided to pace myself with this week’s novel, but I was still left with the feeling that I wanted more. This novel will leave you feeling good

“To Be Where You Are” is published by J.P. Putnam’s Sons. This 2017 book costs $28 in hardcover, or you can find it at the library.

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