HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Out to Canaan: The Mitford Years, Book 4
Author: Jan Karon
Illustrator: Hal Just
Publisher: Penguin Books, republished in 1998
ISBN-13: 978-0670874859 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 067087485X (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0140265682 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0140265686 (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.penguinputnam.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Karon, Jan. Out to Canaan: The Mitford Years, Book 4 (published in 1997 by Viking Adult, an imprint of Penguin Putnam Inc., a division of the Penguin Group, 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). In this fourth novel of “The Mitford Years” series about the little town in the mountains of North Carolina with the big heart, whose endearing and eccentric residents have become like family members to thousands of readers, Timothy Cavanaugh, the Episcopalian minister of Lord’s Chapel, and his wife Cynthia are pondering retirement. In fact, Timothy’s bishop and seminary friend Stuart Cullen comes to speak at Lord’s Chapel and make the official announcement of the minister’s upcoming retirement, basing his remarks on the Bible story of Abraham who was called by God to leave the comforts of his home in Ur of the Chaldees and go “out to Canaan.” In the mean time, a brash new mayoral candidate, Max Stroop who runs the local hotdog stand, is challenging nine-term mayor Esther Cunningham, a suspicious realtor with plans for a health spa is eyeing Miss Sadie Baxter’s beloved house Fernbank, and, worst of all, Winnie Ivy may be closing Sweet Stuff Bakery.
And there’s always Tim and Cynthia’s adopted son Dooley Barlow to deal with. A touch of mystery involves the intimation that Max Stroop’s campaign is being secretly funded by an anonymous donor with some kind of ulterior motive. All the while Tim helps various individuals in trying to sort out and solve the different problems which they face in their lives, including a few of his own. Most people like the Mitford books. A few don’t. To each his own. I am not an Episcopalian, but I do enjoy reading good stories where people are guided by faith in God. And even if people don’t always agree with all the religious beliefs and practices found in the books, they can still appreciate the friendliness and sense of community in the small town atmosphere of Mitford. Plus, the plots are generally wholesome and clean. Cynthia occasionally says, “Oh, poop,” and a few characters, including Tim, may utter “Good Lord” as an interjection. Not every situation always comes out in a neat and pat manner, but there are warm examples of changed lives and improved circumstances. We listened to the audio version of this book while travelling on a trip.