My description may not sound all that exciting, but the books are really wonderful. They are about life, and about someone who faces life with compassion and attention. Karon evokes truisms in the actions and musings of the priest. I also greatly enjoy her depiction of the small-town setting; her descriptions and dialog bring it to life so well that I feel as if I am there observing.
Before I started the first book in the series, I was a bit hesitant because I thought the book might have religious overtones. There is definitely a religious aspect to the series, but not one that I feel put off by. The priest quotes from scriptures and uses prayer for himself and with others, but I can read it understanding that this is his way of approaching and understanding living, and does not have to be my way. In other words, I do not feel that the books are preachy about religion.
One aspect I particularly like about the books is the empathy and understanding given to certain characters who are from impoverished, abusive backgrounds. Some of the characters are brought in to situations where they are allowed to heal in a realistic way, and there is recognition by the priest and others that the healing is a long, difficult process. The benefit of both laughter and crying are recognized as well; in Out to Canaan one woman who has adopted a neglected girl from an abusive family says that she is waiting for the day the girl cries. This day in fact occurs and the girl does show progress in her healing. In general there is a focus on helping people in need in the stories, which is something meaningful to me. Thus I appreciate and enjoy reading about characters who do so in a caring manner.
I enjoy the books so much that I never want each one to end as I am reading it. However, I also wait quite awhile between books in the series because I want to savor them and not finish the series too fast (I think there are only seven in it)!