Far from Mitford and his beloved wife Cynthia, Father Tim Kavanagh enters unfamiliar emotional territory in the town of his birth.
When he receives a letter postmarked Holly Springs, Miss., that contains a cryptic two-word message written in a precise, old-fashioned hand, Father Tim decides to answer its call and return to his birthplace for the first time in 38 years. On the long drive, he faces unanswered questions and half-forgotten memories: What happened to his boyhood chum and blood brother, Tommy? What caused his father's melancholy that bordered on cruelty? What happened to Peggy, the adored black caregiver who disappeared when he was 11? Who is trying to contact him, and why? As Father Tim awaits the letter writer, he is showered by blessings: He finds that his hometown has been beautifully restored, and he makes peace with an old flame. When the summons comes, it brings both joy and betrayal. He is reunited with his beloved Peggy, only to learn a terrible secret: She was carrying his father's child when she disappeared. When Peggy reveals that Henry, her son and Tim's half-brother, has leukemia and can only survive with a transfusion from a compatible sibling, Tim has to struggle to reach the decision he knows is right. In this setting away from home, we see Father Tim in a new light as he wrestles with his past and explores the origins of his religious convictions. The saga veers into magical theater as Karon (Cynthia Coppersmith's Violet Comes to Stay, 2006, etc.) ties up every loose end in Tim's past. But readers who miss Mitford's colorful eccentrics will be satisfied by Holly Springs's ample supply of quirky characters.
Karon's deft interweaving of past and present infuses the Mitford saga with new energy.