OMG, I think I'm going to suffer from a terminal case of heartwarming-ness. I may just melt into a puddle, beginning from the inside. This book is not literature. It doesn't really deal with real people. It's a peaches and cream fantasy world. But it's fun enough for comfort reading, providing one has some semblance of grounding in traditional Christianity. I doubt people ignorant of traditional Christianity would find much of interest in this book.
My spouse rescued several books in this series from her mother's house and deposited them on the staircase. They seemed interesting enough to investigate, and besides, it gives my spouse great pleasure if I break down and read a dead-tree book now and again.
This particular book, the first in the series, deals with a bachelor Episcopalian priest, Father Tim, who lives in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina. He encounters many "problems", but of course overcomes them all, thanks to the grace of God, and lives happily ever after. Well, we don't know that from this book, because the book ends with oodles of loose ends, loose ends which will only be tied up, if at all, in reading subsequent books in this quaint series (there are at least 10 of the damn things).
So, at the beginning of the book, a rather undisciplined and large dog imposes himself on Father Tim, then, after Father Tim becomes fond of the dog, said dog is snatched away by drug traffickers. He also is forced to take on a rather uncouth 11-year old, who is, naturally, a red head (the grandson of his indisposed sexton). Then the elderly rich lady in the parish needs to tell the story of her lost love. Oh yes, the vestry inflicts a housekeeper on him who has no idea how to go about finding a husband and a widow woman moves in next door who has very nice legs. Father Tim is enchanted by the widow woman despite having spent the previous 60 years being perfectly happy as a bachelor. Then, Father Tim gets diabetes. Oops, I forgot, things disappear in the church from time to time, like Father Tim's sandwich and the communion wine from the refrigerator. It turns out there's a jewell thief in the belfry, which is empty because the bells need repairing. Naturally the repair people aren't exactly on the ball, giving Father Tim yet another problem.
So, anyway, we have to resolve all these issues. But of course, we don't really because we need to have more books to work further through the resolution. My previous paragraph might have sounded a bit snarky, but I did like the book. But then I have spent too much of my life in Sunday School and in the choir loft, and also reading through the Bible, believe it or not. I was not convinced by the theology in this book. Not because I disagreed with it, per se, although it struck me as simple minded. But my real problem with the theology is that it felt more like Southern White Evangelical theology than like traditional Episcopalian theology. We have several miraculous "conversions" that come about by mere recitation of the sinner's prayer. We are overly supplied by obscure, out of context, Bible verses which solve one or another immediate problem. Even silly prayers get answered, almost immediately, because God has nothing better to do than to take care of minor details of our lives, and so on. Then too, several people just pick up a random Bible, begin reading it and get saved. Somehow, they were divinely lead to miss all the icky and tedious parts: like the story of Judah and Tamar; the problem of the Levite's concubine in Judges; the story of Lot, who is allegedly the only "righteous" person in Sodom, but who acts in most unrighteous ways as far as I can tell; how 'bout Elisha calling out a she bear to maul a bunch of adolescent boys; or page after boring page describing all the cubits and acacia wood and whatnot required for constructing proper altars, tabernacles, ... stuff; or the whole history of Sampson wherein you realize that he was really rather an asshole; or ... ?
This doesn't smack of the Episcopalianism I know. But, perhaps southern Episcopalians aren't so much different from Southern Evangelicals. The Nothern Episcopalians I know (e.g. my in laws) seem more like the Presbyterians and Congregationalists with whom I have hung out over my journey through life.
Anyway, it's a decent enough book if you're in for a spot of comfort reading and don't mind that nothing in the book reflects real people or the real world. My friend, Michael, would of course, dismiss this book as being "girly", which it surely is. No monsters or dragons or people wielding swords and so forth. But it was an adequate diversion for a few days. I'm not sure if I'll read another in the series or not. I expect they'll lie in state on the staircase while I decide. I have until next fall when the books all get donated to the church-fair book table.