Janice Come Rain or Come Shine is the culmination of all the previous Mitford books. It is dependent on the others and can not possibly stand alone.
Sylvia O I've read the Mitford books and the "Father Tim" books, so it's kind of hard for me to assess how this book would read without that background... but I think it would leave anyone who is new to the series frustrated. Come Rain or Come Shine is written with a sparseness that almost requires the reader to fill in the blanks with their own knowledge of the characters and their backgrounds. If you haven't already done so, I definitely recommend reading "Home to Holly Springs" before reading CROCS. Technically "Home" isn't part of the Mitford series, but it provides the background for what was, for me, one of the nicest story lines in CROCS.
Linda It is part of the Mitford series and it will really help if you have read the other books so you will know what is going on and especially be able to tell who is speaking.
Debbie I think you would enjoy it more if you read the whole series. There are several people and things mentioned that you would appreciate more if you had read the other books. "Home to Holly Springs" was to be the first of the Father Tim series but in my opinion it was part of Mitford. Also, Dooley was introduced to us in the first book and we watched (read) him grow up. To me that made this book more special. Dooley is part of our family which made it seem like we were at a favorite nephew's wedding.
Amy It has been a long time since I've read the other books, so I honestly couldn't remember some of the people in this book. And that made it somewhat confusing. I definitely thing you'd need to read the other books.
Stephanie Yes, this is part of the Mitford series. It really should be read after the others since the characters are from the previous books and the relationships are important.
Benedetta Yes I would say you need to read the previous books. But don't let that deter you, you will enjoy them all. And had I the opportunity to read every book in succession it think I would have enjoyed them even more.