In her latest book, Home to Holly Springs, Jan Karon has done it again, stirred my interest in an unlikely protagonist–Father Tim Kavanagh, the retired Episcopalian priest from Mitford, North Carolina. When Karon’s Mitford series ended, I felt that sixty-nine-year-old Father Tim had done it all, or certainly enough, over the last ten years of his fictional life. He’d rescued a family of orphans, adopted a son, solved a crime or two, pastored several parishes, been diagnosed with diabetes, and married for the first time.

In this the first book of Jan Karon’s new series, The Father Tim Novels, Kavanagh travels with his dog Barnabas, to his childhood home of Holly Springs, Mississippi. Of course, Tim had thought about his family and friends in Holly Springs many times in the decades that had passed since his last visit home, but then a terse, anonymous note arrived in Mitford and compelled him to, “Come home.”

Every chapter of Holly Springs is filled with flash-backs and numerous new characters—a best friend now missing, a long-lost sweetheart, a housekeeper and nanny gone without a goodbye, and a cruel father not forgotten or forgiven. As Father Tim searches for the sender of the note and revisits the places of his childhood, we learn how Father Tim, the only child from a seemingly mismatched marriage, came to be a priest, and much later a follower of Christ.

As always, Father Tim shows us how to weave scripture, Christian literature, and our own faith journey naturally into a conversation with friends, strangers, and even with those who know our secrets.

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