Nearly 500 pages of sheer Mitford bliss! Each chapter collects various scenes from all the Mitford books around a common theme, with reflections from Jan herself on the topic. Far from formulaic in design, The Mitford Bedside Companion reads much more like an intimate conversation with the author and her characters.
I recently re-read the entire Mitford series to get ready for the release of Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good, and I was feeling a little withdrawal from the cozy town. This book is the perfect antidote! In it you'll find all your favorite scenes with all your favorite characters. Miss Sadie and Uncle Billy are once again alive and well, Dooley is a teen again, and Percy is back behind the counter at the Main Street Grill. Just a few of the topics covered include the turkey club at Main Street Grill, Father Tim's sermons, and Uncle Billy's jokes. Yes! There's a whole chapter that's a collection of Uncle Billy's finest! I think this was my favorite chapter. A close second: the chapter that collects the love letters between Father Tim and Cynthia.
There were two unexpected (to me) bonuses to The Mitford Bedside Companion: a very short section of Mitford bloopers and a fairly thorough character glossary. The bloopers section was only about a page long, but there were a few details that I guess other readers caught that I didn't. In case you'd also noticed that Miss Lottie has two different last names in various books, Jan answers that in this book. (Don't look at me for an explanation! Go get a copy of this book! You know I don't do spoilers.) The character glossary is much longer. Jan estimates that over 700 individually named characters have made appearances in the series. Do not fear: she doesn't list all of them! This book would have to be published in multiple volumes for that to work. But she does list a lot of them. There were a few that even I had forgotten! But as soon as I saw the names, a smile stole across my face as though I were greeting an old friend.
Thanks to someone awesome (shout out to my mom!), I've met Jan Karon. So I could totally hear her voice in my head as I read her reflections. (I hope that statement doesn't sound stalkerish. I promise I'm sane.) I loved "hearing" her talk about her experiences in Mitford, and how the various characters and situations came to be.
This book is so easily digestible. You could read it all in one go, as I did, or savor sections of it at a time, since it's written as a collection of essays and quotes from the books.
*I received my copy of The Mitford Bedside Companion as a gift. Thanks, Mom!