Jan Karon

The American author Jan Karon has been writing for a number of years now to great effect, with a vast and extensive backlog of work written during her career. Creating a name and niche for herself within the literary category of contemporary Christian fiction, she has become one of the most respected authors within her field to date. With plenty of series and franchises written under her name, she is also one of the most prolific novelists as well.

Early and Personal Life

Born in 1937 on the first of January, Janice Meredith Wilson was born and raised on a farm that was near Lenoir. Living in North Carolina for the duration of her upbringing, she was always acutely aware of her passion for reading and writing. With her focus constantly set on becoming a writer, she never wavered from her ambition, as she honed and refined her skills throughout the years.

With a strong passion for religion, she has had a tumultuous upbringing and one that has only made her stronger as a person and an author. Suffering the tragedy of parental divorce early on, she would herself drop out of school at just fourteen and get married. Following this she had a child, Candace Freeland, when she was just 15 with her then husband Robert Freeland.

Following a traumatic accident involving a gun, Freeland was left paralyzed, something Jan tried to make work for many years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, though, and the two eventually separated, followed by another two long-term marriages as well. During this time, though, she was constantly writing, and it was in 1988 that she started to publish short stories of hers in the ‘Blowing Rocket’ newspaper.

These stories were to make-up the Father Tim novels that she is currently well known and equally well appreciated for. Still writing to this very day, she continues to put out work set in the much-loved world of Mitford for an ever-eager audience. This is something that should continue for some time yet, as her writing career carries on into the foreseeable future.

Writing Career

Starting out with her Mitford Years series of novels, she wrote ‘At Home in Mitford’ which she released back in 1994. This was also the novel that first introduced the character of Father Tims to the world as well, a long-running character in his own right. Setting up her themes and ideas, it also worked at establishing the world that she’d writing in and setting her stories in, along with her many recurring much loved characters too.

Focusing many of her stories in and around the fictional area of Mitford, it should come as no surprise that her franchises are primarily set around this location too. With her Mitford Years novels, along with her Father Tims spin-off series of books, she’s really managed to bring this village to life. On top of this, she has also written a number of children’s books as well, along with a collection of non-fictional works too.

Reaching best-seller status on numerous occasions, she has not only managed to win over the critics but the general public as well. Seen as one of the foremost writers of Christian fiction to date, she is viewed of as a positive force within the community. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t shy away from more difficult subjects as well, though, as she deals with topics such as depression too.

Working extensively on promotional tours for her many novels, she is always greeted by a large and eager crowd. Going across country to promote her books, she constantly engages with her audience unlike any other author to date. Always keeping herself busy with her work, she is a keen and active advocated for both her and her genre as a whole.

Moving to Virginia from Blowing Rock in 2000, she would also set-up a 1000 acre farm there, with an 1816 home. This was all working, something else that would engage her alongside her writing, which she still continues with. Not showing any signs of stopping anytime soon, her writing career carries on growing from strength-to-strength, which it will do for some time yet.

A New Song

Marking the fifth title in her ongoing Mitford Years series of novels, this was originally published in 1999 through the Penguin Books publishing label. With the franchise already fully underway, it carries on directly from the last with another story set in the world of Mitford. It also continues developing the narratives of the characters, such as that of leading protagonist Father Tims.

With Father Tims now looking to retire as the long-time serving Episcopal priest to Mitford, he is called upon to serve Whitecap. With Whitecap Island being a fairly remote area in of itself, it is not without incidence, when he finds it has more than its fair share of incidences going on. Adding to the new intriguing characters, Mitford is still in the background, as his phone continues to ring constantly. Will he ever really leave Mitford behind? What is the secret past that’s haunting his new organist? Can he find a new song?

In The Company of Others

Setting up the second title in the spin-off series of Father Tims books, this was the second novel about the eponymous priest. Carrying on directly from the last, it manages to continue the story in much the same vein as before, whilst developing the story of its leading protagonist. It also manages to provide some twists and turns along the way as well, always keeping readers engaged right until the very end.

Heading to Ireland this time, Cynthia and Father Tim look into researching his ancestry, whilst looking into his Kavanagh past. Cynthia then disturbs a burglar, spraining her already hurt ankle in the process, but not before a prized painting is stolen. They both must also come to terms with the painful pasts that many in this family have to deal with behind their idyll of rural life. Will they find the painting? Can the overcome history? What will become of them in the company of others?

Books in order of publication by series:

Mitford Years Books

At Home in Mitford(1994) 
A Light in the Window(1995) 
These High, Green Hills(1995) 
Out to Canaan(1997) 
A New Song(1999) 
A Common Life(2001) 
In This Mountain(2002) 
Shepherds Abiding(2003) 
Light From Heaven(2005) 
Home to Holly Springs(2007) 
In the Company of Others(2010) 
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good(2014) 
Come Rain or Come Shine(2015) 
To Be Where You Are(2017) 

Mitford Gift Books

Esther’s Gift(2001) 
The Mitford Snowmen(2001) 
Patches of Godlight(2001) 
Trellis and the Seed(2003) 
Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader(2004) 
The Mitford Bedside Companion(2006) 

Mitford For Children Books

Violet Comes to Stay(2006) 
Violet Goes to the Country(2007) 

Mitford Collections

Bathed in Prayer(2018)

Father Tim Books

Home to Holly Springs(2007) 
In the Company of Others(2010) 

Children’s Books

Miss Fannie’s Hat(1995)
Jeremy: The Tale of an Honest Bunny(2000)

Short Story Collections

A Continual Feast(2005) 

Non-Fiction Books

The Mitford Years Reading Guide(1997)
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