Discussion Guide: Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good
cover_9781611763126

INTRODUCTION

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 passion—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 reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?

Millions of fans will applaud the chance to spend time, once more, in the often comic and utterly human presence of Jan Karon’s characters. Indeed, they have never been more sympathetic, bighearted, and engaging.


ABOUT JAN KARON

Jan Karon is the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of twenty-three books, including the Mitford novels, the Father Tim novels, a popular cookbook, and several books for children. She lives near Mr. Jefferson’s Monticello, a World Heritage site in Central Virginia.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  1. Father Tim and Cynthia return to Mitford after five years of hectic retirement, drawn to the place that means home to them. What does home mean to you?

  2. In your opinion, does Mitford still take care of its own? What does that phrase mean to you?

  3. Do you think Mitford is a model for living a true and authentic life? Why or why not?

  4. How is your local community similar to Mitford? In what ways is it different?

  5. How has retirement changed Father Tim? Did Father Tim make the right decision declining the bishop’s offer? How do you think his life would have changed had he returned to his job as pastor?

  6. Even though Father Tim no longer has an official pulpit, he’s still the lynchpin of his community. How does he serve the community, and do you think he’s more or less effective in his new role?

  7. There are certain points throughout the novel where Father Tim feels “twelve years old again” (53, 143). Do you ever experience something similar, and if so, when?
  8. Father Tim and Cynthia exchange love letters. What does this say about their marriage? Why is being “somewhere safe with somebody good” the source of ultimate happiness for Cynthia? Do you agree? If not, what would your source of ultimate happiness be?

  9. Though Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is mostly from Father Tim’s point of view, we’re occasionally treated to glimpses of Mitford life as seen through the eyes of others, such as Coot, Hope, and Esther. What purpose do you think these shifting views serve and how do they contribute to the story?

  10. What do you think of Dooley and Lace’s decision? How do you think they will handle the next phase of their journey?

  11. Sammy has come a long way since meeting Father Tim, but clearly still has a long way to go. Discuss his journey to becoming a happy, well-adjusted adult. Do you think that is possible for him? Why or why not?