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A Common Life
by Jan Karon
ISBN 0670894370 / 9780670894376 / 0-670-89437-0
Publisher Penguin Group USA
List price $24.95
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A Common Life is a trip back in time for fans of "the little town with the big heart." Somewhere between the second and third volumes of Jan Karon's Mitford Years series, dyed-in-the-wool bachelor Father Timothy Kavanagh and his next-door neighbor Cynthia Coppersmith tied the knot. The author left it to readers' imaginations to fill in the blanks. In this delightful story, Karon paints a complete picture of the events surrounding the wedding of Mitford's best-loved couple, and chronicles the poignant and often hilarious reactions to the nuptial news by the tightly knit North Carolina community.
All the details cherished by those who are enchanted by weddings are offered here, from the color of the bridal outfit (aquamarine) to the choice of flowers (virgin's bower and hydrangeas). When the wedding bells finally ring, the pews are packed with the people who make Mitford special: ornery Uncle Billy, delightful Miss Sadie, indispensable Louella, and the cantankerous Emma Newland. And there's not a dry eye in the house when Father Tim's problematic foster child Dooley Barlowe sings for the two people who love him the most.
A Common Life is not just a wedding story. It's also an intimate portrait of the unfolding love between Cynthia and the shy Father Tim, complete with fears and hesitations, professions of commitment, and Barnabas the dog delivering love letters. But there's nothing heavy-handed here. The tensions don't run any higher than wondering if Cynthia will make it to the wedding on time after getting locked inside her own bathroom, or guessing if Esther will make her famous three-layer orange marmalade cake for the reception. Told in the warm, down-home style that Karon has built her reputation on, A Common Life is sweet without being saccharine, charming without being cloying. It's an invitation to a literary reunion of the best kind, and like all weddings, it will probably coax a few tears and plenty of smiles. --Cindy Crosby [via]