I usually read novels to relax and escape from my daily routines. Some novels I finish and instantly forget. There was really nothing memorable about them. Others stay with me, even when I’m not still reading them. What’s the difference between them?
Here’s my answer. The good novelist must create a believable world and believable characters you want to get to know better. An excellent novelist should have something important to say, but he lets his characters say it in such a way that you, the reader, almost don’t notice, because you are so immersed in the world the novelist has created for you.
In a well-written novel, every piece of the plot puzzle is placed on the table where the reader can find it as the plot builds. The reader is with the writer as they put the pieces together until they fit perfectly and the picture is complete. They work with what is on the table. The writer doesn’t hide pieces and then throw them on the table when the puzzle is almost complete, stealing the satisfaction you have as you work with him to put the final pieces in place.
A great novel makes it hard to return to the real world. One doesn’t want to leave the characters behind. The reader is left wanting more.
I felt that way about the Mitford series by Jan Karon. I never wanted it to end. That’s why I’m delighted to discover Jan Karon has finally given us another Father Tim book set in Mitford once more. Even the title reflects the wholesome atmosphere of the Mitford books — Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. If you are tired of violence and pain and explicit sexual scenes, this is the book you want to read next. I just ordered my copy to be shipped free on its release date of August 4. I can finish some projects before then so I have time to get lost in it for a few days.
If you’ve never been to Mitford with Father Tim, you just might want to start at the beginning of the series with At Home in Mitford. You can find all the Mitford and Father Tim Books here. You can start reading them while waiting for the new book to be released.
Have you read any of the Mitford books? What do you think makes a novel great?