Come Rain or Come Shine

Come Rain or Come Shine

Title:  Come Rain or Come Shine (Mitford 13)
Author:  Jan Karon
Publisher:  Penguin
Publication Date:  2015
ISBN:  978-0-399-16745-4

Book Summary:
It is finally happening!  Dooley and Lace are getting married.  Having just graduated from veterinary school and opened up his own animal clinic, Dooley and Lace decide to keep their wedding simple.  Lace makes the invitations, an old friend offers to bring his country band, the guests will provide potluck, and the barn, once mucked out, will provide the perfect venue.

After being abandoned by his alcoholic mother and siblings spread out to unknown places, Dooley might have been a lost cause.  Through the benevolence of a 60-something Episcopalian rector, Father Tim, Dooley is given a chance at new life.  Fans of the series have watched him grow as the entire town of Mitford has rallied his cause.  Lace too had a less-than-stellar childhood with an abusive father; she too was given a second chance.  The two young people have been friends, enemies, confidents, and soul mates since childhood.  Finally the time has come for them to start together the next chapter of their lives.

Of course life, being as it is, is never predictable.  There is no question that the wedding will happen; there are just some obstacles that make the preparations challenging.  A large and rather belligerent bull named Choo-Choo has come to live on the farm, a strong storm pushes through the area knocking down trees and cutting power, and Harley’s teeth are missing . . . again.  But joy comes in many forms, including surprise guests both two and four-legged, forgiveness of old hardships, and the growth of a new family.

Jan Karon truly invites the readers to participate in the wedding and guests won’t be disappointed.  Just make sure to bring a tissue or two.

Book Commentary:
Let me just say that if you have never read the Mitford book series, you are truly missing a delight.  This is the thirteenth book of an amazing series.  What makes the Mitford books so perfect is their quiet and honest enjoyment of the simplicity of life.  I mean, the main protagonist is a 60-something Episcopalian rector!  The novels tell the stories of Father Tim and the sometimes eccentric, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes heart-breaking lives of people in this small town of Mitford.  Jan Karon’s true gift lies in her ability to create characters that readers feel like they know.  Readers experience the pain and joy, and the grief and contentment, as these people live their lives.

Although Father Tim is obviously a man of the church, I appreciate and admire how Jan Karon creates such a universal feeling of devotion and thoughtfulness without being preachy or judgmental.  Her characters are human and therefore flawed, and although a few of the characters have had truly awful life experiences, most are just people surviving and living their daily existence.

I started reading this series years ago and just feel in love with it.  I think though, that this book may be my favorite!  Each book answers some questions and resolves some conflicts, but just as with life, there are always more answers that need to be found and more struggles that arise.  Come Rain or Come Shine represents a culmination of the previous stories, but at the same time, a new start.  If you have been a fan of this series, this book will not disappoint.  Karon does a great job tying up a few loose ends but there are still unresolved conflicts.  As readers have become attached to the characters and their lives, they will await the next story.  I feel like her books are similar to Christmas cards; it is exciting to revisit the characters and see what has transpired in their lives since the last update.

A word of caution:  you will laugh out loud until your sides hurt and cry through a box of Kleenex as you read this book.  Definitely not a carpool line book; unless you want concerned friends and alarmed teachers flocking to your aid.  Although I tend to cry easily at movies . . . much to my children’s embarrassment, I rarely cry with reading.  I wept tears of joy at this book.  It is beautiful.

Who might like this book:
This is not a book series to be rushed, but rather savored.  This is a rare series that I excitedly anticipate the next book in the series, but once I finished one, I need time to reflect and recuperate.  This series is for all ages; there are words of wisdom, nuggets of truth, and ironic realities that all ages and all experiences can relate to. I like how this series can truly transcend the generations; daughters, mothers, and grandmothers can all enjoy these books.  There are common truths and unique epiphanies for all.

READ THEM IN ORDER!  Yes, I just used all caps on you.  It’s important.  These are the Mitford stories:
At Home in Mitford
A Light in the Window
These High, Green Hills
Out to Canaan
A New Song
A Common Life
In This Mountain
Shepherds Abiding
Light from Heaven
Home to Holly Springs
In the Company of Others
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

There are also a number of supplemental books, including companion stories, cookbooks, children’s books, and quotation collections.  They are all good.

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