In These High, Green Hills we're once again in Mitford, a southern village of local characters so heartwarming and hilarious you'll wish you lived right next door. At last, Mitford's rector and lifelong bachelor, Father Tim, has married his talented and vivacious neighbor, Cynthia. Now, of course, they must face love's challenges: new sleeping arrangements for Father Tim's sofa-sized dog, Cynthia's urge to decorate the rectory Italian-villa-style, and the growing pains of the thrown-away boy who's become like a son to the rector. Add a life-changing camping trip, the arrival of the town's first policewoman, and a new computer that requires the patience of a saint, and you know you're in for another engrossing visit to Mitford -- the little town that readers everywhere love to call home.
The village of Mitford is soothing tonic for a readership that feels starved for community and yearns for clear morals. The recently married Father Tim and his plain-folk neighbors live the best of Christianity in everyday life. Even the rampant gossip in Mitford is the good kind: folks worrying about other folks and everyone minding one another's business out of concern rather than malice. As a result, no one faces a crisis alone. Often the crises are cause for a belly laugh, such as the rectory's new computer system that seems programmed to torment. But just as often the crises have the bite of real-life problems, such as the bloody young girl in shredded clothes, whom Father Tim finds after she was beaten by her drunken father, and the soul-wrenching despair Father Tim feels when he loses a surrogate mother. The heavily quoted scripture gives a day-to-day context for biblical teachings as well as spiritual solace during the sadder days at Mitford. --Gail Hudson