Readers Find Simple Faith in Karon's Books
Since 1994 Jan Karon's Mitford series of novels has sold more than three million copies, with the latest, A New Song, occupying the number one position on Amazon.com's list during the last week of April this year (Jones 71). The Mitford books focus on inspirational stories, spiritual themes, and small town humor. Readers identify with the realistic characters in the stories. Rogene Kellar, 83, in a Newsweek article said she has read each book four times. Kellar further remarked, "I think you feel better having read them, but it's not goody-goody." Kellar's daughter, Carol Montgomery 57, said, "It gives you peace." The Mitford books enjoy a following of devoted readers and have also become marketable in another way. Hallmark plans to release the Mitford collection of greeting cards and collectible knick-knacks soon. Penguin Books publishes a quarterly Mitford reading group discussion guide and the newsletter, More from Mitford. Additionally, respected women's magazines such as Victoria have retained Karon as Writer in Residence publishing pieces of short fiction about Mitford.
However, despite all of the attention, some readers want more of Karon. Lauren Winner in a recent article, "Karon's Agenda," published in Christianity Today finds:
The Mitford books are strikingly bereft of anything controversial--no women priests or church wardens, for example, are ever mentioned, nor is the issue that is currently threatening to divide the Episcopal church in America--homosexuality. . . .I believe Karon would only do her readers a service by tackling these admittedly explosive questions head-on. (Winner 65)
Winner asserts Karon avoids such issues in the books "presumably because they...
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..., but they remain the issues that most, common, citizens face in their communities. So perhaps a simple, "day-to-day" faith is sufficient after all.
Jones, Malcolm. "Touched by Angels." Newsweek May 3, 1999: 71-72.
Karon, Jan. At Home in Mitford. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.
Karon, Jan. A Light in the Window. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.
Kaorn, Jan. These High, Green Hills. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.
Karon, Jan. Out to Canaan. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.
Karon, Jan. A New Song. New York: Viking Books, 1999.
The Student Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1986.
Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction 1790- 1860. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Winner, Lauren. "Karon's Agenda." Christianity Today July 12, 1999: 64-65.