Welcome Back: Books That Are Like Going Home Again

shelved under Personal Favorites and Fiction

Well-known places and much-loved faces are always good to come back to. Their familiarity is both comfortable and comforting. With this in mind, the books on this list represent series whose characters have become so familiar to me that each visit is like going home again.

Totally devoid of literary grandeur or great social significance (though still flashlight-worthy, of course), the allure of these books is the warm, cozy familiarity that seems to welcome me back each time I come, allowing me to catch up on what’s been happening while I was away. I like that.

Tara Road

Tara Road

by Maeve Binchy

The lilting voices of Ireland and their delightful and humorous idiomatic phrases are hallmarks of Maeve Binchy novels and a large part of what set her books apart from others in the so-called “Chick Lit” genre. That’s why this book — set in both Ireland and the U.S. — sometimes loses its voice while in America, yet never fails to entertain. As Irish Ria and American Marilyn switch homes for the summer, these two despondent protagonists go on journeys of intentional self-discovery and unintentional self-revelation. A fun read!

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This book also appears on Oprah's Book Club

 
 
Scarlet Feather

Scarlet Feather

by Maeve Binchy

In typical Maeve Binchy fashion, the reader’s return to Dublin introduces new people, with old friends casually interspersed. The eponymous catering business of the book’s title, allows the lives of the owners, Tom and Cathy, to overlap with those of all the other characters. This includes a haughty mother who seeks to impose her rigid social rules; an Americanized Irish sister coming home to create a caricature of an “authentic” Irish wedding; charming but destructive twin children who wreak havoc wherever they go (which is everywhere)... you get the idea!

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Quentins

Quentins

by Maeve Binchy

A documentary intended to showcase the history of the legendary restaurant, Quentins, (and Dublin’s history, too), instead records the all-too-human foibles of its owners and patrons (several of whom we’ve met before). Of course, the revelation of this documentary will undo many carefully constructed lives. Therein lies the enjoyment!

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At Home in Mitford

At Home in Mitford

by Jan Karon

The first and best of the Mitford series introduces the big-hearted Father Tim, Episcopal pastor and friend to all. In his small North Carolina town also reside Emma, Father Tim’s imperious but loveable secretary; the jokester, Uncle Billy, and his eccentric, male-attired wife, Rose; the wealthy Miss Sadie, Father Tim’s sanity compass; Dooley, the incorrigible boy whom Father Tim takes in... and many other equally strong personalities who will endear themselves to you through much laughter and a few tears.

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Light from Heaven

Light from Heaven

by Jan Karon

Irrepressible characters return, coexisting with new ones in this, the last book in the Mitford series. Actually taking place outside of Mitford as Father Tim and Cynthia house-sit in the mountains, all loose ends are nicely tied in each character’s life. After virtually inhabiting this town for years, my sadness at leaving the characters behind was easily assuaged by the fact that Jan Karon has a new series with Father Tim.

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204 Rosewood Lane

204 Rosewood Lane

by Debbie Macomber

Loosely based on the author’s hometown of Port Orchard, Washington, the fictional Cedar Cove is filled with intrigue. Second in a series that has no foreseeable end, this book centers around the disappearance of Grace’s husband, Dan (both of whom lived at the address in the title). The investigation unfolds against the backdrop of other characters’ difficulties, including unwanted pregnancy, a collapsing marriage, and a budding romance. This description may sound like a soap opera (even to me!), but the book reads like a neighborhood.

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74 Seaside Avenue

74 Seaside Avenue

by Debbie Macomber

In the seventh book of the Cedar Cove series, the mystery surrounds threats against an international chess champion and his wife (a local woman whom he married a couple of books ago). Meanwhile, cancer strikes a beloved character from the earlier books as friends rally around, miscarriage befalls another, and yet another contemplates the future after being widowed. The saga continues!

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8 Sandpiper Way

8 Sandpiper Way

by Debbie Macomber

The most recent addition to the Cedar Cove series has yet another mystery: if the local pastor is not the jewel thief that circumstances portend, who is? And as the sheriff investigates, his own personal life begins to unravel. Whether you’ve read all the preceding books (I haven’t) or begin here, you’ll care about these characters and look forward to the updates. Bring on the next one!

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From the Heart of Covington

From the Heart of Covington

by Joan A. Medlicott

Unaware that this was part of a series, I began with this, the third book. Somewhat of a “Golden Girls” minus one, divorce and widowhood find the series’ three ladies living in a rambling southern farmhouse, where they reinvent their lives and share the ensuing ups and downs. Advanced age is certainly not a prerequisite for enjoying these ladies’ adventures.

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Two Days After the Wedding

Two Days After the Wedding

by Joan Medlicott

Hannah, Amelia and Grace are back, in the serene southern town of Covington. This time around, as the title indicates, a wedding has occurred. Born of a business deal, this unconventional marriage wreaks havoc with the couple’s emotions and makes the reader root for them.

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