This is the second post in a series about books I’m recommending. It was going to be the last, but it’s not. This one is fiction for the faithful. And for the fallen. General nonfiction yet to come.
The Mitford Years, Books 1-6 (At Home in Mitford / A Light in the Window / These High, Green Hills / Out to Canaan / A New Song / A Common Life)
Katie and I read six of these nine books about Father Tim, an Episcopal priest from Mitford, North Carolina. Yes, it’s genre fiction, but Jan Karon does a nice job developing the character and characters of a small Southern town, with excursions to the mountains or the outer banks to add variety and charm. Charm is good, in this likeable series that’s a cross between All Creatures Great and Small and Lake Woebegon. Like most series it gets a little weaker as it goes along, but the weakest by far was A Common Life, a flashback to the wedding that occurs between books two and three. I’m sure the fans demanded it, but it lacks conflict. I doubt we will finish books seven to nine, but the new Father Tim series changes venues, to Ireland, and looks to have sufficient conflict to make it worth a read. So we will give In the Company of Others a chance. Karon is a wonderful story teller, with a knack for giving characters a voice of their own.
The Wrinkle in Time Quintet (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, An Acceptable Time)
We also read L’Engle time travel books again and enjoyed them even more than when we read them to our kids. Many Waters, especially, set just before the flood, was fun to read and easy to visualize—two American teenagers making friends with Noah. L’Engles blend of hard science and soft fantasy makes a pleasant read with a good cup of tea. This is not genre fiction, by the way, but real characters with real depth. No flat characters here. And no predictable plots either. Her characters take risks and experience growth.
I also read a couple of genre science fiction series on my own, mostly since Katie wouldn’t read them with me. That means I read them late at night on my iPhone. Call it my guilty pleasure.
But if this is your thing, Karen Hancock’s Guardian books are worth a look. At first glance it seems doomed. Not only is it genre fantasy, it’s Christian genre fantasy. I don’t like my allegories heavy handed, and this gets close, especially in some dialogue where the true believers sound like modern day evangelicals. The plot moves quickly however, and Hancock’s sense of detail is good. Very good. Palace intrigue, gladiators, slave ships, mystical creatures. It’s all there.