Jan Karon has big news -- she'll have a new Mitford novel, "Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good," out in September -- but our telephone conversation is all over the map. That divine coat she was wearing when I interviewed her in 1996 in Blowing Rock, for instance. Unforgettable. Long, sleek lines. Black. Fit her like a swim suit. She bought it at Binn's in Williamsburg, she told me back then. And she says she's still wearing it.
But our real subject now is Mitford, and the bestselling Karon's return after a near-decade to the scene of her popular novels, starring, among others, Father Tim Kavanaugh.
"Father Tim has been retired five years, and is at loose ends," she tells me. "I needed to relieve him of this angst that seems to come when men retire. Stop!" I said. "Find something to do."
So the good father "just fell into" a new pulpit. "But it has nothing to do with the church," she says. "He walks out his faith on Main Street."
And no more Main Street Grill. The new eatery is Wanda's Feel Good Cafe. "Wanda's all about burgers and fries," says Karon. "That's where the guys meet."
You probably know that Karon, who's 77, was born in Lenoir and grew up in Charlotte, and that her grandmother lived for decades at the corner of Park Avenue and Worthington.
Did you also know that Karon, who now lives in Central Virginia, has a secret recipe for weight loss? It's all about cabbage. Let me know if you want the recipe. I'll run it in this space.