Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Every 1-2 years, I pull Jan Karon's Shepherd's Abiding off my bookshelf and read it during Advent. I've read it so many times that I skipped last Advent lest the story start to feel too predictable to me, and I happily pulled it out on Sunday.
I've read every book in the Mitford series and enjoyed all of them, but this is my absolute favorite book of the bunch. The series chronicles Fr. Tim, an Episcopalian priest who works in a small town church located in the hills of North Carolina. Assorted other townspeople are featured as well, and the stories are very charming. Some of the books are better than others, but overall I loved the series and recommend it.
Shepherds Abiding takes place during a Mitford Advent, and has our Fr. Tim happening upon a neglected antique nativity scene and spontaneously deciding to purchase and restore it as a Christmas gift for his wife. Nativity sets had played a memorable role in both of their childhoods, and this ragamuffin set captures his imagination as a project to work on leading up to, and during, Advent.
I can't tell you how happy I feel when I read this book. I usually read books on my Kindle these days, but I bought this in print years ago, and I have to say, this is a book that I would only read in print. There are a few beautiful color illustrations included and the cover art inspires me just to look at it. I am keeping it on my night stand this year and only allowing myself to read it before falling asleep to guarantee that it will last me for all of Advent.
Fr. Tim is an endearing character, and he's intimidated by the plaster work and painting involved in restoring his set, especially since his wife is a successful artist. Restoring the set is important to healing his heart toward his deceased (and emotionally distant) father, as well a true gift of the heart for his wife. I loved reading about the research he did to get each piece of the nativity just right in its color and look.
Definitely a book to check out this Advent. :)