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Book reviews

“In This Mountain”

Jan Karon


Now that the holiday rush is over, it’s a good time to sit down in your favorite chair with a cup of tea and enjoy a perfect “feel good” read – Jan Karon’s newest book in the Mitford Series novels.

But beware! Once you begin to walk the quaint streets of Mitford, N.C., and become involved with the goings-on of its inhabitants, the demands of real life will begin to fade away. Your family may have to fend for themselves for a day or so.

If you’re familiar with the series, you’ll be glad to know that all your favorite characters are back. Episcopalian rector Tim Kavanagh is a little older now, retired from Lord’s Chapel, and struggling with what to do with his life.

His wife, Cynthia, however, is the recipient of a writing award and departs on a nationwide tour to meet fans and broaden her horizons.

Dooley, Hoppy Harper, Puny, Mule Skinner, Miss Rose and Uncle Billy are meeting life’s struggles head on. Father Tim’s nemesis, Edith Mallory, is trying again to lure him into a compromising situation.

If you’ve missed the first six books, fear not. In just a few summary sentences, Karon brings you up to date and you’re moving on to new territory.

Lest you think that this is a book of all fluff and no substance, think again. Karon is greatly adept at inserting Christian principles into the common, everyday life of her characters.

When least expected, she will hit you deep in the theological part of your brain. Especially significant is Father Tim’s consistent prayer life. Bad things happen, he prays, things change.

The Los Angeles Times says, “[Karon] is a writer who reflects and illuminates contemporary culture more fully than almost any other living novelist.” That’s probably why her books have made the bestseller lists.

Her gift book, “Esther’s Gift,” was recently listed in the top 10 of the hardcover fiction bestseller’s list.

My favorite part of Karon’s book is the clever, animated dialog between characters. Her quick-witted repartee, sprinkled with spicy southern vernacular, humor that makes you laugh until you cry, and a religious message that makes you think, makes this book a must read.

Enjoy it the next time the power goes out.

– Pam Fortner

Grass Valley


Ken Follett


During World War II, England’s Special Operations executive sent 50 women into France as secret agents. Thirty-six survived. Ken Follett dedicated “Jackdaws” to all of them.

D-Day, the Allied invasion of France, “was the largest military operation in human history.”

Felicity Clairet, known as “Flick” is a British major and a senior agent responsible for sabotage behind enemy lines. Her current assignment is to find a small group of women to accompany her to France. Their mission: to destroy a deep underground complex of telephone lines just before D-Day, thus crippling German communications. Their code name is Jackdaws.

On very short notice, Flick gathers six French-speaking women, each at expert at explosives, engineering or just plain killing. Their adventures in parachuting into France in the dark and overcoming incredible odds are mind-boggling – and great reading.

Her chief adversary is German Major Dieter Franck, an infamous torturer. Her husband, Michel, a French Resistance fighter, has a lover on the side, and just a touch of schadenfreude when Flick runs into difficulties.

Ken Follett writes superlative spy stories, as “The Key to Rebecca,” “Eye of the Needle” and “Code to Zero” attest. His many fans will applaud this effort toward feminism and new readers will line up for his other novels with anticipation.

– Joan Agar

Nevada City

various authors

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