Over the course of ten Mitford novels, fans have kept a special place in their hearts for Dooley Kavanagh, first seen in At Home in Mitford as a barefoot, freckle-faced boy in filthy overalls. Now, Father Tim Kavanagh’s adopted son has graduated from vet school and opened his own animal clinic. Since money will be tight for a while, maybe he and Lace Harper, his once and future soul mate, should keep their wedding simple. So the plan is to eliminate the cost of catering and do potluck. Ought to be fun. An old friend offers to bring his well-known country band. Gratis. And once mucked out, the barn works as a perfect venue for seating family and friends. Piece of cake, right? In Come Rain or Come Shine, Jan Karon delivers the wedding that millions of Mitford fans have waited for. It’s a June day in the mountains, with more than a few creatures great and small, and you’re invited—because you’re family. By the way, it’s a pretty casual affair, so come as you are and remember to bring a tissue or two. After all, what’s a good wedding without a good cry?
One thing I like about the Mitford novels is following a core group of characters through the stories and seeing how life changes for those characters. Unlike many series romances in which each installment features a different couple, with the people who are introduced in earlier books just serving as background scenery, the Mitford stories carry readers through many years in the life of Fr. Tim, who is an Episcopal priest, his family and friends. Unfortunately, at some point I think it is time to tell those characters goodbye and move on to new families.
Come Rain or Come Shine tells the story of Dooley and Lace's wedding and the weeks leading up to it. Despite the intentions to keep things simple, it seems that everyone who could be invited was. I've read enough of the Mitford books to recognize the names of many of the characters, but it has been long enough since I read them that I couldn't really put faces and stories with names. Karon drops a few details but mostly the reader is left feeling like a "plus one" at a family wedding. The point of view shifts frequently and it can take re-reading to figure out who is observing or thinking at the time.
The wedding scene itself was beautiful and Fr. Tim's advice to the newly married couple was spot-in.
In short, if you are a Mitford fan and want to attend the wedding of Dooley and Lace, I think you'll enjoy the book. If you haven't read the other books, give them a try--they will warm your heart, but leave this one until the end. Without the other stories, this one is just another stranger's wedding.
I'd like to thank the publisher for making this book available via NetGalley. Grade: B-