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A Common Life: The Sixth Book in the Mitford Years Series Paperback – Mar 28 2002


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A Common Life: The Sixth Book in the Mitford Years Series + In This Mountain + A New Song: The Fifth Book in the Mitford Years Series
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 28 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142000345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142000342
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #14,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Mitford, Karon's delightful fictional village in western North Carolina, will be thrilled with this newest installment, which relates an episode she skipped over in her earlier books: Father Tim and Cynthia's wedding. (He proposed at the end of the second Mitford book, and at the beginning of the third, they were already happily married.) Finally, readers get to see the stunned expressions of most Mitford residents when they hear Father Tim has actually popped the question. Readers learn about Cynthia's anxieties over the pending nuptials, share Esther Bolick's delight when Cynthia asks her to bake her famous orange marmalade cake and hum along as the Lord's Chapel parish belts out "Praise my soul the King of Heaven" at the ceremony. And as usual, Karon works in a few snippets of convincing mountain dialect. While Mitford die-hards will welcome this installment, however, the unconverted won't find much to bring them around; one has to already know Karon's eccentric characters, with all their foibles, to fully appreciate the book. Even Mitford devotees may be a touch disappointed that the trademark lessons about Christian faith that Karon weaves so seamlessly into most of her tales are more or less absent from this slim volume. (When they do appear, they stick out, as when Bishop Cullen pointedly discusses the role of sex in Christian marriage.) Still, don't be surprised if Mitford fans begin serving orange marmalade cake at their weddings, and sing hymn 410 at every opportunity. (Apr. 9)Forecast: Fresh from her 2000 Christy and ECPA Gold Medallion Awards for A New Song (book five), Karon keeps rolling along with the Mitford series. This book will no doubt please the thousands of fans who have written to Karon, asking, "Why weren't we invited to the wedding?" Six weeks before its release, the novel was hovering around the #100 position on Amazon.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9 2002
Format: Paperback
Not sure why Jan Karon even wrote this book. It gives you nothing new to the story. It was written as if her publisher wanted something new so she wrote this in 5 minutes just to please her publisher. This book is so unlike her other books. She's a wonderful writer with stories that just sweep you off your feet and characters that find their way into your heart to stay. As far as this book is concerned, don't waste your time.
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By David C. Hoffner on Sept. 17 2003
Format: Paperback
My wife and I have read each of Karon's Mitford books aloud to each other over the past few years. This is one of the better ones.
One thing I enjoyed about this book is that several different characters narrate it. In the other Mitford books (thus far) everything is narrated from Father Tim's perspective. But here we are privy to the thoughts and observations of other well-known characters, such as: Esther Bolick, Uncle Billy Watson, and Mayor Cunningham. I think this change of structure works well for this particular installment. It gives us a fuller view of that most dramatic of events: the marriage of a beloved old bachelor. Let's face it; if it were up to Father Tim to remember the events surrounding his wedding to Cynthia, we wouldn't have much to work with because he had too much going on around him.
This book is slimmer than the others, perhaps offering less story than fans are used to. One compensatory value might be that it has a nice two-color interior design.
I recommend _A Common Life_ to fans of the series mainly on the virtue of its unique structure, giving voice to other familiar characters
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By C. Hill on Aug. 27 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a response to the requests of many disappointed readers who wanted to read about the wedding that happened after the end of book two but before the beginning of book three. Jan Karon went back and wrote the story of the wedding and this is the end product. I'm a hopeless romantic and I'm all for romantic love stories, but this book was WAY over the top, to an unrealistic degree. It seems like every other page, Father Tim is marveling at the joyful, desperate, blissful, dazzling, breathless, mesmerizing, overwhelming, extraordinary, happy, dazzling, astonishing, overpowering love he feels for his fiancée (these are just some of the MANY adjectives used in much overabundance throughout the book). It just got too sappy and I didn't feel a connection with the characters at all. I listened to this book on tape from Recorded Books, and the last tape is an interview with Jan Karon. This was the one redeeming quality of sitting through the whole story. Karon sounds like a wonderfully nice person with great inspiration and a solid faith. Even though the last few books have seemed a little too unrealistic and dry, I enjoyed hearing the background of how the Mitford novels came about. I don't know if I'll read any more books in the series. It's gotten to the point where the description of ordinary people living ordinary lives has evolved into a near-utopia, with little to none of the problems that ordinary people in the real world experience.
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By K. Fromal on Sept. 15 2002
Format: Paperback
I only recently began reading Jan Karon's series of Mitford novels, so I read this one in between books two and three, where it belongs. While I have found all of the Mitford books to be sweetly compelling, A Common Life is my favorite so far.
Father Timothy Kavanaugh, the lifelong bachelor, has finally decided to commit his life to his vivacious neighbor, Cynthia. He thinks that his feelings of worry about his relationship will be over upon making this decision - but Father Tim is so very wrong. There is, after all, a wedding to be planned!
The good folk of Mitford proceed with all of their usual flair. Cynthia is subject to showers and teas, while Father Tim gets a good dose of advice at his favorite diner. There are the usual decisions about flowers, songs, and attendants. Yes, all of this is commonplace - but that is the beauty of Karon's writing. She infuses these decisions, gone through by all engaged couples, with a grace and candor that is rare.
I read several chapters of this book with tears in my eyes, impressed by the gentleness and true love of the characters. Fans of Mitford are sure to find a blessing in A Common Life.
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Format: Paperback
I read this sixth Mitford installment after completing the second one, which is where it really belongs, and I have to say that Jan Karon continues to please me. While A Common Life is not as long or as in depth as her other Mitford novels, it still maintained that downhome sweetness and comfortable, cozy feeling that I've come to expect and love in these books.
A Common Life tells the story of Father Tim's acceptance of the importance and neccessity of Cynthia in his life. After proposing, the couple encounters the typical problems, jitters and joys that most engaged couples do. And as expected, the whole town of Mitford is getting into the celebration: Hessie Mayhew is in charge of the flowers, Esther Bollick is waiting for her invitation to bake the cake, and Uncle Joe is busily searching for the best joke to tell at the reception. And of course the wedding couldn't come off without at least a small hitch -- at 10 minutes after starting time, Cynthia is nowhere to be found...
Jan Karon has written another pleasing and endearing story. It is written in the same beautiful, classy way as the others, and any Mitford fan will consider this novel to be a wonderful addition to the series. Having said that, I can see where some readers could be disappointed if they were reading the books in order since A Common Life (#6) does not continue with the story where #5 stopped but instead goes back in time to between #2 and #3. However, despite which order you read it (and I recommend #6 after #2), I believe A Common Life is a treasure and perfect as a gift for any engaged or newly married couple as it celebrates a wonderful and simple romance. Looking forward to continuing on with the third book in the series. I know I won't be disappointed.
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