If you’re looking for a solid Christian fiction series, this is it. Reading Jan Karon’s Mitford series in order will leave you asking for more.
It’s easy to feel at home in Mitford, a famous small town in America where the air is pure and the breathtaking green hills give a spectacular view. To top it off, the village is charming and the people warm and lovable.
With most people living in the city and its daily rush of life, Mitford offers a quiet, peaceful life out of the busy lifestyle. Reading the Mitford series in order paints a clear picture of what life can be in a small town.
Maybe it’s time we all packed our bags and headed there! However, before that, let’s learn a little more about the village from reading Jan Karon’s books.
What is Jan Karon’s Mitford Series About?
Jan Karon is the author of the Mitford series. Janice Meredith Wilson grew up on a farm near Lenoir, North Carolina, and she knew she wanted to be a writer from a tender age. She wrote her first novel at ten years old, the same year she won a short-story contest organized by the local high school.
The Mitford series was born after Jan failed to get a novel underway and started writing about Father Tim Kavanagh as a series of short stories. The rest is history, as this author has continued to build on this storyline for many years now.
The Mitford series takes us to a little town with a big heart. It takes place in a fictional town of Milford, North Carolina, and the story centers around Father Tim, an Episcopal priest. Here the most ordinary people live extraordinary lives.
Follow Father Tim, Cynthia and the rest of the charming townsfolk as they interact with people and life in the little town.
Mitford Series in Order of Publication
The best way to read the Mitford series in order is following its published order as follows.
- At Home in Mitford (1994)
- A Light in the Window (1995)
- These High, Green Hills (1996)
- 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 (2014)
- Come Rain or Come Shine (2015)
- To Be Where You Are (2017)
Mitford Series in Order – Book Summaries
Now that you’re ready to read the Mitford series in order, here are the book summaries to each book within this series.
1. A Home in Mitford
It’s easy to feel at home in Mitford. In these high, green hills, the air is pure, the village is charming, and the people are generally lovable.
Yet, Father Tim, the bachelor rector, wants something more. Enter a dog the size of a sofa who moves in and won’t go away. Add an attractive neighbor who begins wearing a path through the hedge. Now, stir in a lovable but unloved boy, a mystifying jewel theft, and a secret that’s sixty years old.
Suddenly, Father Tim gets more than he bargained for. And readers get a rich, provincial comedy in which mysteries and miracles abound.
2. A Light in the Window
Life in a small town is rarely quiet. And absolutely never boring.
Because Father Tim’s attractive neighbor is tugging at his heart-strings. A wealthy widow is pursuing him with hot casseroles. And his red-haired cousin Meg has moved into the rectory, uninvited.
So as you can see, Mitford’s rector and lifelong bachelor, Father Tim, is in need of divine intervention. Only time will tell if the village parson can practice what he preaches.
3. These High, Green Hills
For years, Mitford’s sixty-something rector has been happily married to his parish. Now he’s also married to Cynthia, his vivacious next-door neighbor.
For Father Tim, life in Mitford has never been so full of surprises. His wife is “aging” his already ancient kitchen walls, not to mention burning his draperies. The mountain boy he’s learned to love as his own makes a heartrending decision. And the agony of mastering the church computer system is as boggling as the pandemonium that breaks loose when his quiet rectory becomes a nursery.
All this, however, is small potatoes in comparison to what happens on a wilderness camping trip that sends him home a changed man.
4. Out to Canaan
Father Tim, the Episcopal rector, and his talented and vivacious wife, Cynthia, are pondering the murky uncertainties of retirement. They’re also trying to locate the scattered siblings of Dooley Barlowe, the mountain boy they love as their own.
A brash new mayoral candidate is calling for aggressive development, and a tough survivor must hunker down for the fight of her life. Worse, the Sweet Stuff Bakery may be closing, and a suspicious real estate agent is trying to turn the beloved house on the hill into a spa.
Can change be coming to Mitford? The buzz on Main Street says yes. Change is certainly coming to the tenderest regions of several townspeople’s lives.
A woman struggles every day to stay on course after years of hard living. A man tries to forgive himself for a tragic mistake. And the town’s most eligible bachelor leaves Mitford — and returns with a stunning surprise.
5. A New Song
In the fifth installment of this series Mitford’s longtime Episcopal priest, Father Tim, finally retires. However, new challenges and adventures await when he agrees to serve as interim minister of a small church on Whitecap Island.
He and his wife, Cynthia, soon find that Whitecap has its own unforgettable characters: A church organist with a mysterious past, a lovelorn bachelor placing personal ads, and a mother battling paralyzing depression. They also find that Mitford is never far away when circumstances “back home” keep their phone ringing off the hook.
Fans old and new will discover that a trip to Mitford and Whitecap is twice as good for the soul.
6. A Common Life
Laughter and wedding bells ring as Jan Karon takes her millions of fans back in time to the most cherished event in Mitford! Mitford’s Lord’s Chapel is the home to the most joyful event in years: The wedding of Father Tim Kavanagh and Cynthia Coppersmith.
Here at last is A Common Life, and the long-awaited answers to these deeply probing questions: Will Father Tim fall apart when he takes his vows? Will Cynthia make it to the church on time? Who will arrange the flowers and bake the wedding cake? And will Uncle Billy’s prayers for a great joke be answered in time for the reception?
From Dooley Barlowe, to Miss Sadie and Louella, to Emma Newland, the mayor, everybody who’s anybody will be there celebrating in the little town with the big heart.
7. In This Mountain
Father Tim and Cynthia have been at home in Mitford for three years since returning from Whitecap Island.
In the little town that’s home-away-from-home to millions of readers, life hums along as usual. Dooley looks toward his career as a vet; Joe Ivey and Fancy Skinner fight a haircut price war that takes no prisoners; and Percy steps out on a limb with a risky new menu item at the Main Street Grill.
Though Father Tim dislikes change, he dislikes retirement even more. As he and Cynthia gear up for a year-long ministry across the state line, a series of events sends shock waves through his faith, and the whole town of Mitford.
8. Shepherds Abiding
Millions of Americans have found Mitford to be a favorite home-away-from-home, and countless readers have long wondered what Christmas in Mitford would be like. The eighth Mitford novel provides a glimpse, offering a meditation on the best of all presents: the gift of one’s heart.
Since he was a boy, Father Tim has lived what he calls “the life of the mind” and has never really learned to savor the work of his hands. When he finds a derelict nativity scene that has suffered the indignities of time and neglect, he imagines the excitement in the eyes of his wife, Cynthia, and decides to undertake the daunting task of restoring it.
As Father Tim begins his journey, readers are given a seat at Mitford’s holiday table and treated to a magical tale about the true Christmas spirit.
9. Light From Heaven
Father Tim Kavanagh has been asked to “come up higher” more than once. But he’s never been asked to do the impossible — until now.
The retired Episcopal priest takes on the revival of a mountain church that’s been closed for forty years. Meanwhile, in Mitford, he’s sent on a hunt for hidden treasure, and two beloved friends are called to come up higher.
As Father Tim finds, there are still plenty of heartfelt surprises, dear friends old and new, and the most important lesson of all: It’s never too late.
10. Home to Holly Springs
Thirty-eight years have passed since Father Tim Kavanagh left his Mississippi hometown, determined not to return. Then he receives a handwritten note postmarked Holly Springs.
Cryptic and unsigned, it says only: Come home. These two words compel him to make the most challenging journey of his life.
Traveling to his boyhood home doesn’t merely take Father Tim across hundreds of miles. Thanks to a thousand sights and smells, he also travels back through memories. Some fond and some he’s tried for nearly forty years to forget, from his quick-to-anger father and his lovingly tender mother to the picturesque small town he’d tried desperately to leave behind.
And once Father Tim discovers who was behind the mysterious note, a truth is revealed that will change his life — forever.
11. In the Company of Others
Vacation: The very word has been foreign to Episcopal priest Tim Kavanagh. Now retired from tending his flock in the village of Mitford, he is making good on a promise to show his wife, Cynthia, the charming land of his Irish ancestors. But after arriving at a Lough Arrow fishing lodge in the midst of a torrential downpour, the charm disappears.
They find their holiday upended by an intruder, a treasured painting is stolen from the lodge, and a family conflict dating back nearly a century turns even more bitter. As three generations struggle to find deliverance from the crucifying power of secrets, Tim and Cynthia stumble upon a faded journal that might just explain the crime — and offer a chance at redemption.
12. Somewhere Safe with Somebody
After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors. While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: A pulpit.
But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion.
His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passions — for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. And Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business.
All this as Wanda’s Feel Good Café opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a re-election campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?
13. Come Rain or Come Shine
Over the course of ten Mitford novels, fans have kept a special place in their hearts for Dooley Kavanagh, first seen in At Home in Mitford as a barefoot, freckle-faced boy in filthy overalls.
Now, Father Tim Kavanagh’s adopted son has graduated from vet school and opened his own animal clinic. Since money will be tight for a while, maybe he and Lace Harper, his once and future soul mate, should keep their wedding simple.
So the plan is to eliminate the cost of catering and do potluck. Ought to be fun. An old friend offers to bring his well-known country band: Gratis. And once mucked out, the barn works as a perfect venue for seating family and friends.
Piece of cake, right?
Jan Karon delivers the wedding that millions of Mitford fans have waited for. It’s a June day in the mountains, with more than a few creatures great and small, and you’re invited — because you’re family.
14. To Be Where You Are
After twelve years of wrestling with the conflicts of retirement, Father Tim Kavanagh realizes he doesn’t need a steady job to prove himself. Then he’s given one. As for what it proves, heaven only knows.
Millions of Karon fans will be thrilled that it’s life as usual in the wildly popular Mitford series. A beloved town character lands a front-page obituary, but who was it, exactly, who died? And what about the former mayor, born the year Lindbergh landed in Paris, who’s still running for office?
All this, of course, is but a feather on the wind compared to Muse editor J.C. Hogan’s desperate attempts to find a cure for his marital woes. Will it be high-def TV or his pork-chop marinade? In fiction, as in real life, there are no guarantees.
Meanwhile, newlyweds Dooley and Lace Kavanagh face a crisis that devastates their bank account and impacts their family vet practice. But there is still a lot to celebrate, as their adopted son, Jack, looks forward to the most important day of his life — with great cooking, country music, and lots of people who love him.
Happily, it will also be a day when the terrible wound in Dooley’s biological family begins to heal because of a game — let’s just call it a miracle — that breaks all the rules.
This series has fourteen books and the best way to read the Mitford series in order is following the publication order. The benefit is to be able to follow the storyline, as there are many interactions among the characters that you might miss if you skip through the series.
Have you read the Mitford series in order? Let us know in the comments below.