I was pretty excited to find a new Father Tim novel in the audiobook section of my library. I get it; reading Jan Karon is like wearing Christmas sweaters. I’m sure Stacy and Clinton would rip Karon’s books out of my bookshelf, but I am Jennie and I admit to reading all of the Father Tim books more than once. I don’t think I require a 12-step intervention program for my sappiness.
The novel held promise; Father Tim and Cynthia go on a birthday present trip to Ireland, the home of both of their ancestors. He wants to take his beloved wife back to a place he fell in love with when he was single. When Cynthia injures her ankle and is forced to stay at the fishing lodge for the entire trip rather than do the sightseeing they had planned, Father Tim gets embroiled in a local mystery and the personal lives of the innkeepers. This is not surprising since apparently, once a minister, always a minister, and he can’t say no to helping bring people to God.
Unlike some of the Amazon reviewers, I loved the construct of Cynthia and Father Tim reading an old journal written in the early 1800s about the neighborhood. I thought Karon did a nice job weaving the ensemble’s stories together and the journal gave the reader insight into the troubled history of Ireland without hitting us over the head about it. Generally, I think that Jan Karon treats her readers with respect; she give us just enough factoids so that we understand the sociological point she is trying to make while still believing that we can engage our prior knowledge to figure stuff out.
Reviewers also commented having difficulties with the Irish dialogue. I enjoyed the audiobook version of this novel and since I never saw how Karon wrote it out on paper, I can’t really comment on its readability. I do know that hearing the Irish bits helped me to understand them and I probably would have skipped over them otherwise. It was kind of charming to “hear” Father Tim try to speak Irish.
In the Company of Others: A Father Tim Novel is NOT a Mitford book and don’t expect it to be. If, however, you are interested in Irish culture, Father Tim and Cynthia are the same gentle people in a new environment and this book is worth a read.