Benchmark Title: Jan Karon’s At Home in Mitford
Minutes from January Discussion
Appeal of Jan Karon: characters–easy to identify with; not controversial, reader not challenged or disturbed by issues; relaxing, slower pace; village setting; an old-fashioned read; “mental vacation”; short chapters; sketches (illustrations); invokes nostalgia; humor; good repartee; older couple romance down to earth; inner dialogue of main character
Character/Frame(Setting as Character)/Pace/Tone
Karon is a good writer–use language, description, story religious background–the message is contextual–not preachy
Complaints: Dooley’s dialect annoying and did not ring true for his age
Readalikes: Philip Gulley, Wanda Brunstetter, Anne of Green Gables, Thomas Kincaide, Olive Burns’ Cold Sassy Tree, Medlicott’s Covington series, Maeve Binchy, Debbie Macomber’s knitting series
Gentle Reads usually not and need not be “Christian Fiction” although most Christian Fiction may meet the Gentle Reads criteria. Christian Fiction is its own category and usually contains religious viewpoints that are more important than any other facet like the Romance or Historical genre. Often Evangelical.
1.) Contain no explicit sex, violence, or strong language
2.) Gentle Pacing that takes reader on a leisurely story filled with comfortable characters and no unsettling surprises.
3.) Story lines emphasize relationships among characters, rather than suspense or social issues.
4.)Gentle humor often appears in dialogue or underlines these stories.
5.) Take readers back to a comfortable time and place, usually a small town or rural area.
(Saricks, Joyce. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2001, p.63)
Leane Ellis (Notes from meeting January 26, 2010)
Ann B. Ross’s Miss Julia’s Speaks Her Mind Will appeal to Jan Karon fans because of the sweet small town setting, compelling and comfortable characters, and leisurely pacing. May not be for readers looking for a Christian read unless they are open-minded about the difference between a character’s actions and the religious principles. However, someone who wants a humorous over-60 coming of age story will enjoy Miss Julia. This book also contains some sweet romance and slapstick moments.
Rococo ~ Adriana Trigiani
Our Lady of Fatima is a close knit and very well decorated town in New Jersey. It’s prince, Bartolomeo di Crespi is the town’s best and only interior decorator. B, as he’s better known, gives up a New York City career in design so that he can be a beloved brother and uncle and member of the OLOF church. B is also an avowed bachelor. Unfortunately for him, he was betrothed at birth to Capri Mandelbaum his best friend. They have tried everything, but no sparks fly between them and B dotes on her but is determined to remain unmarried. B’s design dream is to redecorate the OLOF church and when he is awarded the commission, he finds himself with the designer’s equivalent of writer’s block. He calls in the big guns form NYC and things start to get interesting in his little town.
Appeal Factors: Character, Frame, Storyline Trigiani creates some wonderfully fun and quirky characters. Though B is not necessarily a believable character to me, he was still likeable and someone to route for. If only all brothers and uncles were that dedicated! Trigiani does a great job of portraying the big Italian family and community. Needless to say there is plenty of humor. Interior design buffs will appreciate the detailed descriptions of every room in the book. And there is always plenty of food and a few recipes.
Charlene Ann Baumbich’s Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet?
Joan Medlicott’s Covington series
Good Readalike for Karon
A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist
In 1860s Seattle, lumberjack Joe Denton struggles to hold onto the land he was awarded as part of a Land Donation Grant. Without a wife, the burgeoning city’s law officials threaten to sell off the acreage Joe is desperate to hold onto. The answer to Joe’s prayers comes in the form of Anna Ivey, fresh off the boat from Boston, but there’s a problem: Anna believes Joe paid her way out to Seattle to be a cook for his lumber camp, and refuses to marry him. It’s up to Joe to change her mind.
Appeal: CHARACTER, SETTING, STORY This gentle historical romance is incredibly sweet. The characters, specifically Joe and Anna, engage the reader from the first page. There are secondary characters, as well, that add moments of humor while tugging shamelessly at your emotions. Without question you rally behind all of them. Since Anna is new to Seattle, she takes in the scenery with something close to awe, and Gist transfers that same feeling to the reader effortlessly. Mount Rainier! A forest of giant redwoods! The setting is not just a wonderful backdrop, but also a character that pulls you in. There is one love scene, after Joe and Anna have wed of course, but it fades to black shortly after it begins. A reader interested in the emotional aspect of a romance will likely devour this one.
Philip Gulley’s Home to Harmony
Good Readalike for Karon
Walking Across Egypt, by Clyde Edgerton.
Septuagenarian Mattie Rigsbee lives alone, able to take care of her home and garden, but is admittedly, “slowing down.” The arrival of a stray dog in her yard leads to some funny episodes and two unlikely new acquaintances. As her bewildered adult children watch, a strange Sunday dinner gathering begins to unsettle Mattie’s sense of reality. APPEAL: Character, Pace, Tone, FOOD.
Elizabeth Cadell’s village life titles
Timeless older author ; excellent character development