Jan Karon walked with me through many dark nights in the midst of the deepest grief I’ve ever known.
Yet, she has no idea I feel this way. In fact, she has no idea who I am!
Each book in her Mitford series is set in a small town in North Carolina. The town itself becomes a character along with many of its citizens, but Father Tim Kavanagh of the Lord’s Chapel is the main character. As I read the first book, I kept waiting for some deep conflict and high drama. It just seemed to be a sweet story about the problems of ordinary folk in the South. I wondered where this story could possibly lead.
Just to give a little context to my mindset— when I began reading this series as a teacher of 8th grade literature, I was reading lots of young adult fiction which is expected to have fast-moving plots and serious conflict!
But Jan’s storytelling sucked me in. I found the threads of conflict stayed with me, and the plot twisted unexpectedly. I was hooked at the end of the first book — a major criteria for sticking with an author. I read each of the books as soon as I could find them at the public library.
But one day, browsing a bargain book sale in Northwest Tennessee, I found a set of cassette tapes of the series – narrated by Jan herself. They were some ridiculously low price, or I never would have bought them. I seldom am interested in listening to the audio of a book I’ve already read.
When I walked through my valley of grief in 2002 I had trouble falling asleep. Every evening for most of my life I have a book to read before I go to sleep. But through the trauma that continued to affect me I cared nothing for reading fiction or watching TV. It seemed so pointless and insignificant.
One night I dug out Jan’s tapes, located a tape player and ear plugs and played the first tape. Since I knew the story, I didn’t have to follow the plot; Jan’s voice just pulled me into the lives of the citizens of Mitford. And I fell asleep, night after night.
When people ask me what kinds of things helped me during those first days of grief, I mention some of the books I’ve put on my Booklist, but I often forget about Jan’s tapes. They were truly memorable; thanks, Jan!
Just finished her latest book and will post a review on it soon.
I am thankful for authors who weave Christian principles into engaging stories. I’m especially thankful for Jan Karon’s books and her narration.
FYI: Haven’t seen that particular audio series anywhere. The recordings you can find on Amazon are good; some even have dramatic portrayals with different actors. I tried listening to someone else’s recording, and it just wasn’t the same!