A usual cast of rural eccentrics peoples the latest from Vermont writer Mosher (Northern Borders, 1994, etc.), as he highlights a crucial summer for an orphan boy who’s come home from college in the 1950s to prepare himself for the seminary. In little Kingdom Common, the heart of Kingdom County, young Frank Bennett sees that not much has changed while he was away, except that foul-mouthed, ballplaying Father George, the hotheaded priest who raised him, has lost much of his fire. A series of tasks the ailing priest has set out for Frank charts the course of the summer, starting with attempts to rein in the free-spirited “village idiot,” who talks to his shadow, tries to kiss a moose on a bet, and finally vanishes from town in a blizzard. Frank’s efforts meet with similar success when he’s charged with overseeing a blithe young daredevil, a redheaded Irish girl excited to new heights by the arrival of a traveling circus’she upstages the acrobats on the flying trapeze and then runs off with the show. A darker side of life is reflected in Frank’s trip to Staten Island to visit the former owner of the Land of the Free Emporium, a Chinese man run out of town by those feeling the pinch of his entrepreneurial prosperity. And when an absent-minded Mr. Mentality comes to Kingdom Common to do a mind-reading show, his rage at not receiving his full fee translates into a terrifying public display of all the town’s secrets. But the real story of the summer involves the local fortuneteller and a girl with laughing eyes who becomes Father George’s housekeeper, and whose face Frank cannot put out of his mind. Capraesque storytelling bursting with juice and flavor, a novel as charming as it is colorful, even if it is at times a bit too predictable.