The Lumby Lines caught my attention as being advertised as something of a Mitford, set in the Northwest. Well, sign me up for that! I was intrigued by the premise.
The basic story line is this: Mark and Pam Walker, come from the East Coast to live in the town of Lumby. There they purchase the Montis Abbey, which once housed an order of monks. The Abbey was rundown and partially destroyed by a fire, but the Walkers have grand plans of restoring it to it's former glory and reopening it as an Inn.
As it is with many small towns, they are suspicious of new people - especially those who waltz in out of nowhere to "throw around money." The people of Lumby aren't exactly friendly. In fact, the only thing that seems to really be open to considering the Walkers as part of the town is Hank, a flamingo statute who resides on the Abbey property and is a full fledged character in his own right!
Of course, you can expect just about anything weird in Lumby. The town mayor is actually a goat! The best entertainment in the town is found in the Sheriff's Complaints which give a rundown of phoned in "catastrophes" noted down by the local law enforcement.
Although this book is advertised as being like Mitford, and I can certainly get that same vibe simply from looking at the cover art, I think it's a bit more busy. I didn't get a calm and peaceful feel while reading it, like I do when I feel like I'm relaxing into Mitford. There seems to be a great deal more activity taking place in the town, even though it's small. While Mitford life seems to just roll along, life in Lumby is so full of work (from restoring the Abbey to building rafts, a few trouble making teens, etc.) that I can't totally relax. I can enjoy, yes. But I cannot relax. Plus, you should be forewarned that there is some foul language scattered hither thither and yon. It's not Mitford! It's Lumby.
That said, I also found the series curiously interesting. This first title in the series, The Lumby Lines, was originally released in 2007. It has since been followed up by four additional titles in the series: Stealing Lumby, Lumby's Bounty, and The Promise of Lumby. The fifth title is due out on July 6th of this year (2010) and is entitled Lumby on the Air.
I really liked the flavor that the monks of the former Montis Abbey bring to the book. To me, they are the group of people who wooed me into this town and made me want to get to know the people. Author Gail Fraser writes well and causes you to really care for the monk's history, as well as their promising future in a modern day society. I also really liked the concept of purchasing an old Abbey and restoring it into a bed and breakfast of sorts. It feels quaint. Yet at the same time, it is a curious blend of history and modernity which really makes this series stand out in a rather unique way.
I hadn't heard of the Lumby books until recently, but its been fun familiarizing myself with this series. To learn more, visit Lumby Books.