Meeting Jan Karon

September 24, 2015


Leslie Anne Tarabella and Jan Karon, Fairhope Alabama, Mitford books, Come Rain or Come Shine

Well, first of all, let me tell you . . . Jan Karon is awesome.

Come Rain or Come Shine, Jan Karon event in Fairhope, AL

I was tickled beyond belief to be invited to moderate best selling author Jan Karon‘s appearance in Fairhope earlier this week. Page and Palette Bookstore hosted the popular author of the “Mitford” series at an exciting event which benefited the Shepherd’s Place Foundation.

Jan Karon event, Fairhope Alabama, Come Rain or Come ShineThese kind ladies manned the busy ticket table where they distributed gorgeous maps of Mitford, NC, the fictional town which is the setting for most of Karon’s novels about an Episcopal Priest, his loyal flock, and a community of deeply caring, kooky and colorful characters.


Susie Caminiti, Fairhope AL, Shepherd's Place event with Jan Karon

The Chairman of The Shepherd’s Place Foundation, Susie Caminiti, welcomed the crowd of about three hundred to Fairhope United Methodist Church.


Leslie Anne Harrison Tarabella, Fairhope Alabama, Jan Karon event
Leslie Anne Tarabella with Author Jan Karon in Fairhope Alabama – Page and Palette Bookstore.

I was up next, and asked the audience who had traveled the farthest just to see Jan Karon. There were probably about a dozen people who had come from over 300 miles, and the two winners came all the way to lil’ ole Fairhope from Massachusetts and Northern Kentucky! One lovely family drove down with their three beautiful daughters all the way from Tennessee. The eleven year old daughter brought Jan Karon a pot holder she had crocheted herself. Such very loyal fans! Those who traveled the farthest were given autographed Mitford maps.


Leslie Anne Tarabella and Jan Karon, Fairhope Alabama, Mitford books
Jan Karon in Fairhope Alabama with Leslie Anne Tarabella with Page and Palette Bookstore.

And then, the star of the show arrived. Jan Karon is beyond charming, talented and funny. She is truly blessed with a real gift. I wish I had recorded the entire interview, because there were so many deeply moving things she said, you would just melt. Jan talked about how she quit her advertising job when she was 50 so she could focus on writing a book.


While praying and thinking of what to write, she had an image of a “short, balding, overweight priest,” and the story evolved from there. It wasn’t until she had written many pages that she finally came up with the name, “Father Timothy Cavanaugh,” an Episcopal Priest the world would come to love. The first installments of the book were actually published in her local newspaper  . . . and that’s how the Mitford tales began.


Mitford Books by Jan KaronJan spoke of her love for animals, how she made a conscious decision to use only clean language, and how she felt called to be a pastor when she was a little girl but was told that was only a job for men. The crowd laughed through many of her stories and sat spellbound when she encouraged us all to follow our dreams no matter what our age. “God has plans for us all. Go boldly before the throne.”


Leslie Anne Harrison Tarabella and Jan Karon, Mitford Books, Fairhope, AL

I’m not too nervous speaking in front of crowds and worried more about falling off the stage, since I’m known for falling down a lot (see my skinned knee?). I looked down at one point and realized I was only inches away from the edge of the stage, so I tried to just stay really still.


I mentioned my former book club in Marietta, GA, (hey Georgia girls!) where I read Jan’s first book, “At Home in Mitford” and while eating the famous Orange Marmalade Cake, had the seed planted to move to a place like Mitford. (It’s Fairhope!).


Leslie Anne Tarabella with Jan Karon, Come Rain or Come Shine, Fairhope Alabama

I shouldn’t have worried a bit, because with Jan Karon on stage, all conversation rolled naturally. Jan told us how she’s already on chapter seven of her next book, but when I asked her to give us a hint as to what we can expect, she wouldn’t reveal a thing. She did tell us that she hasn’t yet decided on a title. Oh, the thick excitement of anticipation!


There is already a cast of over 750 characters in her series of 11 books, and any one of them could have a major storyline of their own. (I’m not making that up . . . 750!).


The latest book, which was released this past Tuesday, “Come Rain or Come Shine” centers around the much anticipated wedding of favorite characters Dooley Barlow and Lace Harper. Karon said writing about a wedding was like planning a real-life wedding with all the details she researched.


Jan Karon, Mitford, Leslie Anne Harrison Tarabella
Jan Karon in Fairhope Alabama with Leslie Anne Tarabella and Page and Palette Bookstore at Fairhope United Methodist Church.

Jan Karon is strikingly beautiful in person, but her true beauty lies within her heart. She makes everyone around her feel comfortable, and is so truly lovely, the folks in Mitford would be thrilled to have her for their next door neighbor; as would all her fans in Fairhope . . . and beyond.  



To see Jan Karon‘s web site, click HERE.


Jan Karon is only visiting six cities for her “Come Rain or Come Shine” tour. Click HERE to see if she’s coming to a town near you!


The link to the Orange Marmalade Cake will take you to Kelly’s blog, Talk of the House. Kelly is also a huge Mitford fan!


  • Wow, so exciting to meet Jan Karon in person!!! I love the Mitford books. I’ve read the couple of books in the Father Tim series and just didn’t care for them — but the Mitford series — now that is a different story. I read and re-read them. Mitford is always worth a visit. Can’t wait to read this new book.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      To me, the Father Tim books blend in with the Mitford stories, so I always think of them as one series. You are right that there is something about those stories set in Mitford that are special!

  • How fun this all must have been! I have got to keep myself in town to participate in all these activities! You look fabulous and I’m sure you did a great job. It’s funny that I’ve purchased several of her books for my grandmother-in-law, but I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never read the series. It will have to be added to my reading list now!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      So sorry you were gone. You would have loved hearing Jan speak.

  • What an inspiration to those of “a certain age” that it is never too late to live out your dreams. I’m so glad that the evening turned out well, hopefully raising lots of money for Shepherd’s Place Foundation. Ohhh, maybe Jan will name a character after you in her upcoming book!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Hee hee! One of the questions from the audience was if the characters of Dooley and Lace have a baby someday, would she please name it after the lady who asked the question. Her name was, “Lady,” which Jan said she thought was a lovely name. Truly ladylike!

  • It must have been a grand affair! I had to miss this one (will fill you in later on WHY), but was with you in spirit. Fortunately, I could read all about the highlights and see how great everyone looked from your blog. Jan Karon books covered an entire table a Books-A-Million in Birmingham and it looks like a series that could become addicting so I’ll wait until summer to read book #1. Thanks for sharing the event with your readers.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Can’t wait to hear what you were up to. Always something fun! Missed you, and know that once you read the first Mitford book, you’ll be hooked!

  • Oh, my goodness! Can I say jealous? Look at you cute Little Bitty Pretty One – you look gorgeous and I love your dress. Now I love Jan Karon and have read her books and just fell in love with the Mitford series. You are quite the little celebrity and I’m proud to know you, even if it’s in blogland! 🙂
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Sheila, you are the best! I should have known you have already read the Mitford books. Nice people everywhere are drawn to them! Loving your series on England!

  • Oh and Kelly, SO wishes she could have been there!! Your post here is heartwarming Leslie Anne, and I will just have to make do with that. I know everyone there had to have enjoyed the evening with the both of you. You do look gorgeous girl! Did anyone ask if Lace was going to be the predominant voice in the future and Father Tim is taking a back seat, or will the future novels have him back as the lead character? (Or had no one had a chance to read the new book and ask that yet?)
    This Mitford fan wants to know. 🙂

    • Leslie Anne says:

      The book had just come out that day, so no one had really read much of it yet. I tried to ask if the new generation was on it’s way to a larger role, and in general, she said, “yes.” Jan talked about how things naturally flow in her books, much like real life, and deaths, births, and marriages just seem to unfold as she writes. Many times, she doesn’t even plan ahead, and never even uses an outline. So the real answer was, she doesn’t know yet!

      Wish you had been there, you would have experienced a slice of heaven.

  • What a wonderful and entertaining event! I bet it was a real treat meet Karon and share the stage with her! You looked beautiful and I love that dress! 🙂 ~Rhonda

    • Leslie Anne says:

      It truly was a treat. I’ll never forget the event or what she said. Thanks Rhonda!

  • I absolutely love her books. Can’t wait to read this one! Lucky you to get to meet her and spend time with her. You look great and I’m so glad you didn’t fall off the stage!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      You and me both, sister!

  • You did a great job [ fun job ? ] Great stage presence. I was especially blessed that she signed one of her books that my daughter had given me . A book she had bought before her illness had overcome her. It will be one of my special memories of both of these special women. As you know Jan was not doing autographs. I thank all involved.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Jan was so busy and had to rush off to an out-of-state airport immediately after the show and felt terrible she couldn’t meet everyone afterwards. I’m so happy she took time to sign your daughter’s book. What a special treasure, and I’m so happy you were able to be there!

  • Love Jan Karon and the Mitford series books, I will have to get the latest one and start reading! You looked beautiful in that dress Leslie Anne!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Thank you Cindy. You’ll love the book right away from the first chapter.

  • You look beautiful! Sorry I couldn’t make it.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Thanks Ellen. You would have loved Jan’s “go live your dream” attitude!

  • Sounds like such a fun and special evening~ I haven’t read her in a while, must get the new one~ Fairhope is indeed a special fairy tale town 🙂

    • Leslie Anne says:

      You’ll love the new book. I’m almost finished now! I told the audience I stopped reading the book because I was so excited about the storyline, I was afraid I would blurt something out and give away the ending!

  • I am pea green with envy (as Scarlett would say) !!!! I love Jan Karon. So glad she is so nice. I bet you knocked them dead, Leslie Anne. You looked beautiful – great dress!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Thank you kindly, Scarlett! It’s always a relief to find out people you think you would like really are as nice as you hoped!

  • I couldn’t wait to hear about the evening. I know it had to be exciting and inspiring, and yes, I guess your Fairhope is like a Mitford.
    Thanks for sharing about it, and you looked great. The dress is a definite winner!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Thanks so much Sandy. The dress was a big hit, and I could have sold 40 of them that night! (Macy’s in Birmingham . . . on sale!).

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