Wedding Bells: Come Rain or Come Shine (review)

Come Rain or Shine
Jan Karon
G.P. Putnam

It’s the month before Dooley and Lace’s wedding–Father Tim and Cynthia are living at Meadowgate holding down the fort and prepping both house and yard for the wedding. (Father Tim is charged with creating a lush, green lawn out of the weedy patches.) While Dooley finishes his last few weeks of vet school, Lace tries to find the perfect wedding dress, work on some commissioned paintings whenever she can grab a few minutes, and otherwise just tries to keep herself calm, cool, and collected.

come rain or come shineA flurry of Mitford characters come and go—some right in the thick of things, like Harley, who’s come out with Father Tim to lend a hand; and Lily Flower who has agreed to organize the potluck and kitchen duties on the Big Day. But other Mitfordians we know and love barely make an entrance—Hoppy and Olivia, Lace’s parents, rush in just before the wedding, and vet Hal and wife Marge Owen, living just over the hill from Meadowgate,  might as well have been in South Carolina. I missed that endearing cast of characters. We see them, mind you, (even more names are dropped as the wedding guests arrive), but we don’t spend much time with them.

 The storytelling was at times a bit jumbled with pages of Lace’s Dooley Book entries interspersed with characters’ memories used to fill in the back story, and even a pages- long wedding sermon by Father Tim (which I must admit flipping through quickly).At the beginning of the novel, especially, I was sometimes confused as to which character’s point of view I was reading.

The title refers to Dooley’s reassuring Lace, “It will be a great day … come rain or come shine” when she worries about the weather forecast. And of course, the weather provides a bit of drama, as does the arrival of a little secret Dooley and Lacey have been keeping from everyone.

I love Father Tim and Cynthia, and haven’t missed one of Jan Karon’s novels yet. But there was something about those first seven or eight books that was so delightfully fresh. I miss Barnabas and Violet and Miss Sadie and the Lord’s Chapel. It’s possible that as Father Tim and Cynthia age, Dooley and Lace could take their place. But the first Mitford book to lay the groundwork for that eventuality didn’t bear the promise I would have hoped for

But saying all this is a little like criticizing the fact that your great aunt Alice always brings the corn pudding to Christmas—and no one likes it—or that if Mom repeats that story about the time you ran away from Kindergarten one more time, you’ll scream. Because when you come right down to it, Father Tim prays. Cynthia makes lists. There’s a new puppy and dancing on the porch and harmonica playing.

We’re at home in Mitford, once again.

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