Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mitford on Wheels

While reading Jan Karon's books, I fell in love with Mitford, a fictitious small town in North Carolina with a large number of interesting characters. I created a database of the characters while reading the second book in the series and tried to keep it up to date as I read one book after another. I finally gave up when the number of characters got into the hundreds, primarily because stopping to make notes was taking away from the enjoyment of reading. If you look on Jan Karon's website you'll find someone has made a list of characters in several of the books.

Where Love Once Lived is set in Austin, Texas with a 2008 population of more than 750,000 people, while Holly Springs, North Carolina, the city some say Mitford is based on, had fewer than 10,000 citizens at the time Jan Karon was creating Mitford. The Austin from my memories had a population around 150,000 which is still much larger than Mitford.

The characters in Where Love Once Lived get outside the confines of the mobile library frequently, but when needed, I use the bookmobile to limit the size of the locale. Friends meet on the bookmobile, and many of the most serious conversations take place there. It's used to chauffer the mayor in one scene. Children find the support of caring adults there. Adults get their dreams fulfilled. One of the highlights is when a young couple gets married on the bookmobile while parked at the base of Mount Bonnell. There's a chase scene involving the bulky vehicle which is more humorous than exciting, especially when it flies over Austin's traffic calmers. Books fall from the shelves, helping solve a crime. I call my book Mitford on wheels.

Once you've read the book, tell me what you think about this approach of using the bookmobile to make the surroundings smaller.

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