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A Common Life: The Sixth Book in the Mitford Years Series Paperback – Mar 26 2002

2.6 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • A Common Life: The Sixth Book in the Mitford Years Series
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  • A New Song: The Fifth Book in the Mitford Years Series
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  • Shepherds Abiding (The Mitford Years, Book 8)
Total price: CDN$ 49.52
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; Reprint edition (March 26 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142000345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142000342
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #79,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
A Common Life was written, as I understand it, in response to a clamor from the readers of her books, to write "more" about Father Tim and Cynthia's wedding. I did not feel that same need, although I bought the book the minute it arrived in my town.
This book has been referred to as a novella, which is appropriate; it was never meant to be another major novel in the Mitford series.
This novella presents a different perspective than the other five. After some introductory pages of At Home in Mitford, we gain practically every bit of our knowledge and feeling for the characters through the experience of Father Tim. Everything comes to us through his eyes. Almost nothing takes place--no conversation, not a piece of information-- that does not come through his direct experience or his reflections or through conversations to which he was party.
Even the author's commentary, which would from a lesser writer come to us from the distance of the third person--the author as author--seems to come from Father Tim's own thoughts and feelings. Jan Karon hides herself so beautifully within her central character that she and he become one and the same. She herself, the author, hardly ever intrudes upon his mind and heart--at least, not that we are aware of. Rarely have I read any author who does this so delicately and with such skill. Then, of course, we, too, become Father Tim: we know everything he knows and feel what he feels and as he feels. This is what makes, I believe, these books so delightful and reaches so many people, touches them so deeply.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently finished reading this book and when done, I sat back and thought...THIS is a book about feelings. It is not a story, it is a means of conveying from the heart, exactly what commitment, respect, honor and love is ALL about in marriage today. With the actions of marriage today, so much of what Jan Karon has written about has been lost during the hustle and bustle of a wedding, THE plans, THE moment, THE schedule of events. Jan Karon has reminded the world about THE feelings, THE commitment and THE life of a marriage. I think it was a most enchanting presentation of the realities of marriage and a wonderful book presenting issues and feelings that a bride and a groom SHOULD be concentrating on as they enter into a most sacred of trusts and sharings. This book would make a WONDERFUL gift for a bride to be...a book to be shared with her daughter on her wedding day. Nothing is wrong with Jan Karon....everything is perfect with the writings. What is needed with this book is to take a big step back...and let your eyes open wide for your heart to see~
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By A Customer on April 19 2001
Format: Hardcover
No,it isn't long enough - hence 4 stars, not 5 - but it is a sheer joy for what it is. As a Mitford-addicted reader and tape listener I approached with trepidation hearing the tape read by anyone but Jan. Dana Ivy is superb and captures Cynthia especially with new shades of color cast on this fascinating character. The complexity and challenge of what it means to make a marriage commitment is genuinely explored through Father Tim; we learn more about the Mitfordites through vigniettes connected to their own marriages or love stories; Miss Sadie is ALIVE again; Dooley's singing, so eloquently done by Dana on the tape - all are joys. The simple reiteration of the Gospel and how to find spiritual wholeness - for me,the heart of all Mitford books- is there in power.
A COMMON LIFE is a lorgniette-view of characters about whom we have come to care during the single event about which we would most like to know every detail. The book delivers - but we'll never stop wanting more, because Jan's storytelling gift has made room for itself permanently for so many.
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