The Monk Downstairs

Written by: Tim Farrington

The Monk Downstairs Book Cover
Rebecca Martin is a single mother with an apartment to rent and a sense that she has used up her illusions. I had the romantic thing with my first husband, thank you very much, she tells a hapless suitor. I'm thirty-eight years old, and I've got a daughter learning to read and a job I don't quite like. I don't need the violin music. But when the new tenant in her in-law apartment turns out to be Michael Christopher, on the lam after twenty years in a monastery and smack dab in the middle of a dark night of the soul, Rebecca begins to suspect that she is not as thoroughly disillusioned as she had thought.

Her daughter, Mary Martha, is delighted with the new arrival, as is Rebecca's mother, Phoebe, a rollicking widow making a new life for herself among the spiritual eccentrics of the coastal town of Bolinas. Even Rebecca's best friend, Bonnie, once a confirmed cynic in matters of the heart, urges Rebecca on. But none of them, Rebecca feels, understands how complicated and dangerous love actually is.

As her unlikely friendship with the ex-monk grows toward something deeper, and Michael wrestles with his despair while adjusting to a second career flipping hamburgers at McDonald's, Rebecca struggles with her own temptation to hope. But it is not until she is brought up short by the realities of life and death that she begins to glimpse the real mystery of love, and the unfathomable depths of faith.

Beautifully written and playfully engaging, this novel. is about one man wrestling with his yearning for a life of contemplation and the need for a life of action in the world. But it's Rebecca's spirit, as well as her relationships with Mary Martha, Phoebe, her irresponsible surfer ex-husband Rory -- and, of course, the monk downstairs -- that makes this story shine.
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The Monk Downstairs Reviews

Kathleen Valentine
This book started out really, really well. I loved Michael, the monk, who is hard not to love --- he's sweet, kind, sexy and disarming. Rebecca's little daughter Mary Martha is darling and she and Michael have a charming relationship. Rebecca's mother Phoebe is a hoot and highly likable. But Rebecca was hard to take after awhile. Her little hissy-fit when poor Michael, who had been out of circulation for 20 years, hesitated about telling her mother that they were sleeping together after their fi This book started out really, really well. I loved Michael, the monk, who is hard not to love --- he's sweet, kind, sexy and disarming. Rebecca's little daughter Mary Martha is darling and she and Michael have a charming relationship. Rebecca's mother Phoebe is a hoot and highly likable. But Rebecca was hard to take after awhile. Her little hissy-fit when poor Michael, who had been out of circulation for 20 years, hesitated about telling her mother that they were sleeping together after their first weekend together was completely childish. I had a hard time liking her after that.

It's a sweet story but Rebecca could use a good kick in the pants.
Debbie Berris
Wonderful

I loved every moment of Rebecca's awakening in this book. I was originally hooked by the title then kept reading for the joy of the truthful characters and their soulful muddle through life. I can't wait for the sequel.
Will Simpson
Pretty damn good. About a Christian Monk who leaves the monastery and moves into the mother-in-law apartment of a single mother. It is about their relationship and how it buds and blooms. He turns out one of the good ones. A fine example.
Curtain :: The Mystery of the Blue Train :: Dame Agatha Abroad: Murder on the Orient Express / They Came to Bagdad / Murder in Mesopotamia :: The Woman Warrior :: The Best of McSweeney's, Vol. 2
Shea Schultze
This was a good book. I loved his language. The story was predictable.
Jessica
Saw it quoted on a blog and was interested - but it's nothing special- a silly, predictable beach read.
Ana Maria
This is a totally enjoyable book about two adults who find love and understanding when they least expect it. The writing is simple, nov overly fussy but not melodramatic.
Kimberly
A little predictable and cheesy, but a sweet read none the less. This book was a good way to spend a chilly, rainy Spring afternoon.
Vivian
One of those books where you know how it will turn out and then it goes just like you thought. Ho him. The letters to the other monk were pretty deep though so a star for that.
Cindie
Quirky fun read, liked this, the characters and overall plot. Makes me want to read the sequel
Susan
The character development in this work helps this gem stand out as much more than the average chick-lit romance. A bit dated in terms of cultural references (a payphone!), but these hiccups do not distract. Readers of Ann Tyler or Elizabeth Berg's older works will enjoy this tale.
Sam Flint
I enjoyed this book and found it to be deeper than I expected. At it's core, it's a story of people trying to figure out what to believe in - god, love, work, service, prayer - as life changes around them. A divorced single mother and her former-monk tenant discover that they have more in common than it seemed at first glance. The author is, himself, a former monk and the passages about religion and the quiet life of contemplation feel genuine.
Jim Krotzman
The Monk Downstairs is about a monk who leaves the monastery and rents a room from a divorced mother of one. Both have conflicts with their religions. Mike Christopher, no longer Brother Jerome, believes in the contemplative approach to God. His nemesis at the monastery, Abbot Hackley, believes in the service approach to God. Mike tells himself that this disagreement is the reason why he left the monastery. Christopher’s spirituality could be characterized as a via negativa or a focus of God’s u The Monk Downstairs is about a monk who leaves the monastery and rents a room from a divorced mother of one. Both have conflicts with their religions. Mike Christopher, no longer Brother Jerome, believes in the contemplative approach to God. His nemesis at the monastery, Abbot Hackley, believes in the service approach to God. Mike tells himself that this disagreement is the reason why he left the monastery. Christopher’s spirituality could be characterized as a via negativa or a focus of God’s ultimate unknowability.
A relationship develops between Christopher and his landlady Rebecca. Christopher is the antithesis of Rebecca's ex-husband. Both are enamored with the other, and the relationship blooms quickly. Problems with their relationship develop because of each person's relationship with his and her religion. This is a quick read on the surface, but one needs to go back and read the letters and the highlighting. It can be a very cerebral novel.

Carolyn
I enjoyed the story, though I found the letters to Brother James tedious and eventually started skimming them. I don't know yet if I will read the sequel.
Gwen S.
It was different! Between the lengthy letters to Brother James that reflected Mike's internal battle with his religion and his relationships, and slow dance Mike and Rebecca did to get their relationship off the ground, I felt swamped and a tad lost amidst the religious quotes and philosophical arguments on the types of monks at the abbey... The Mary type and the Martha type?!?!! I did admire the judge and Rebecca's speech on Rory's behalf as she realized that her daughter will be getting a half It was different! Between the lengthy letters to Brother James that reflected Mike's internal battle with his religion and his relationships, and slow dance Mike and Rebecca did to get their relationship off the ground, I felt swamped and a tad lost amidst the religious quotes and philosophical arguments on the types of monks at the abbey... The Mary type and the Martha type?!?!! I did admire the judge and Rebecca's speech on Rory's behalf as she realized that her daughter will be getting a half brother, and she should bond with Chelsea. Also how Mike adeptly assumed the role of Dad during Phoebe's hospitalization, caring and comforting Mary Martha the best way he knew. I personally thought it would be too soon to leave my daughter with my new boyfriend, especially a disavowed monk.

The growth of all the characters, even Peter Pan, surfer dude Rory, was appealing. I just wondered throughout the book, why Mary Martha did not have a home pet name, like MarMar. It seems like such a heavy, ancient name for a six year old, especially as it linked the two types of monks. This novel also touched upon the burdens of the 'sandwich generation' of female providers in modern times. I may read the ' Monk Upstairs' later.
Grace
I'm not one to look for more God in books, but this one, considering it's title, needs it. I was intrigued with the supposed premise, stated on the back cover quite boldly as: What do you do when God is the other woman? However, the fact that the main character's love interest is a monk hardly plays into the story aside from a couple token religious scenes. He doesn't shower immediately after sex (Sex and the City reference) or flog himself for his bodily desires (a la Dimmesdale in the Scarlet I'm not one to look for more God in books, but this one, considering it's title, needs it. I was intrigued with the supposed premise, stated on the back cover quite boldly as: What do you do when God is the other woman? However, the fact that the main character's love interest is a monk hardly plays into the story aside from a couple token religious scenes. He doesn't shower immediately after sex (Sex and the City reference) or flog himself for his bodily desires (a la Dimmesdale in the Scarlet Letter). He's merely a socially awkward semi-recluse, and you don't need to be dating a former monk to get that. Also, the main character's reactions seem a little too stereotypically female. On the positive side, it's set in San Francisco, and the author throws some familiar landmarks. I appreciated the fact that the main character rides the 45 bus to work. Random note: I currently work with the editor of this book. (Imagine my surprise when I scanned the acknowledgments and found someone I know!) I did not mention any of my criticisms.
Valerie Petersen
This book presents a straight-forward plot, i.e., a 38-year old single mother of one rents her garage apartment to a former monk who has renounced the monastic life after 20 years. She is lonely, just ending an unsatisfactory relationship with a maybe-I-should-settle-for-less boyfriend; he is a contemplative, looking for silence rather than love. The blossoming of their relationship is rocky because her personal problems and his need for apartness both intrude.

It's not quite a typical love story This book presents a straight-forward plot, i.e., a 38-year old single mother of one rents her garage apartment to a former monk who has renounced the monastic life after 20 years. She is lonely, just ending an unsatisfactory relationship with a maybe-I-should-settle-for-less boyfriend; he is a contemplative, looking for silence rather than love. The blossoming of their relationship is rocky because her personal problems and his need for apartness both intrude.

It's not quite a typical love story. His battle with God (or with himself, it's not clear which) is a real one, which is revealed through a series of letters to a friend at the monastery; her issues are also treated very thoughtfully. There's no attempt to simplify the messiness of the characters' lives. It's a quick read, but not a shallow one, and all the characters, even the peripheral ones, are treated with respect, tenderness, even love. There are no villains or heroes here. I liked it very much, and am would like to read the sequel
Sharon
Stirring, beautiful, sad, joyful, and fully grounded in the bits of daily life. I kept thinking of Graham Greene as I read this quiet, strong novel - The End of the Affair meets The Power and the Glory. Somehow lyrical insights of the deepest things are scattered among a simple love story between a single mom and the man she meets. Also loved Mike's letters to a friend back in the monastery - we only read Mike's replies, but somehow know every word of his friend's side of the discussion. And the Stirring, beautiful, sad, joyful, and fully grounded in the bits of daily life. I kept thinking of Graham Greene as I read this quiet, strong novel - The End of the Affair meets The Power and the Glory. Somehow lyrical insights of the deepest things are scattered among a simple love story between a single mom and the man she meets. Also loved Mike's letters to a friend back in the monastery - we only read Mike's replies, but somehow know every word of his friend's side of the discussion. And the letters fall into the book without the splash of a gimmick. This will be one I return to again and again.
Janice
Though 'The Monk Downstairs' was certainly a sweet love story I soon tired of the endless struggle that Mike (the ex-monk) had with his desire to lead a secular life after leaving the monastery. In fact the struggle that author Tim Farrington kept trying to bring to the surface did not exist with Mike as much as it did with his landlady, the charming and lovely Rachel who was afraid to fall in love and thus become susceptible to hurt. Another criticism I have were the detailed sex scene which co Though 'The Monk Downstairs' was certainly a sweet love story I soon tired of the endless struggle that Mike (the ex-monk) had with his desire to lead a secular life after leaving the monastery. In fact the struggle that author Tim Farrington kept trying to bring to the surface did not exist with Mike as much as it did with his landlady, the charming and lovely Rachel who was afraid to fall in love and thus become susceptible to hurt. Another criticism I have were the detailed sex scene which could only have been written by a male. Almost voyeurism if you ask me. All in all I was planning to rate this book a bit higher but felt that the ending dragged as though the author was just trying to tie up the pieces. This kind of book calls for at least a tissue or two and it didn't have that kind of ending.
Sommertime
This was a new kind of romance for me. Michael Christopher is a disillusioned monk who has left after 20 years in the monastery. Rebecca is a jaded and cynical single mother of a 6 year old daughter. When Mike rents the apartment below hers they strike up a friendship.

There was a lot of deep thought and a real-ness to this story. Not like most contemporary romances out there that are all feelings and fluff. These two people had real feelings and real problems and I loved the way they approached This was a new kind of romance for me. Michael Christopher is a disillusioned monk who has left after 20 years in the monastery. Rebecca is a jaded and cynical single mother of a 6 year old daughter. When Mike rents the apartment below hers they strike up a friendship.

There was a lot of deep thought and a real-ness to this story. Not like most contemporary romances out there that are all feelings and fluff. These two people had real feelings and real problems and I loved the way they approached their relationship. Mike was a smart, funny and sexy man and I liked Rebecca's cynical sarcasm. I could identify with her.

I really enjoyed this story and I love that it was a taste of something different for me. It had a very thoughtful and contemplative sense about it.
Rj
I am so disappointed to say that after 176 pages, I just can't bring myself to finish this book. I liked the concept of a monk dealing with his religious ideals or lack there of in the "outside world". My favorite parts of the book were Mike's (the monk's) letters to another brother still in the monastery. However, I didn't find the relationship between Rebecca and Mike at all realistic. Furthermore, I was completely irritated by the way the author would capitalize a nonproper noun for emphasis. I am so disappointed to say that after 176 pages, I just can't bring myself to finish this book. I liked the concept of a monk dealing with his religious ideals or lack there of in the "outside world". My favorite parts of the book were Mike's (the monk's) letters to another brother still in the monastery. However, I didn't find the relationship between Rebecca and Mike at all realistic. Furthermore, I was completely irritated by the way the author would capitalize a nonproper noun for emphasis. He used far to many similes and would throw in a few big words every now and then that didn't fit into the dialogue or the framework of the character. It was more as if he wanted to prove how smart he was that he has these words in his vocabulary.
Richard
I stumbled across this title by accident while looking for books online about theology. While I hate the overly-generalized genre designation "chick lit", I equally hate cover designs that seem to blatantly advertise a book as chick lit. As a dude, I would have never have noticed this book in a bookstore, assuming at first glance that it was some wistful romance novel. Sure, it IS a romance novel, but it is also a profoundly philosophical book...an examination of contemplation, doubt, and spirit I stumbled across this title by accident while looking for books online about theology. While I hate the overly-generalized genre designation "chick lit", I equally hate cover designs that seem to blatantly advertise a book as chick lit. As a dude, I would have never have noticed this book in a bookstore, assuming at first glance that it was some wistful romance novel. Sure, it IS a romance novel, but it is also a profoundly philosophical book...an examination of contemplation, doubt, and spiritual crisis. I look forward to more books by Tim Farrington now that I know not to judge them by their covers.
Skostal
This is an unlikely, sweet, set-in-San Francisco love story about a single mom who rents her in-law unit to a man fresh out of the monastery after a 20-year love-hate relationship with contemplative life. Though the story sometimes threatens to dip into typical summer chick lit, the author manages to keep the former monk's struggle to reintegrate into life, and make sense of God, very real. It's touching to see him rediscover life after being released from the cloister. Perfect antidote if you'v This is an unlikely, sweet, set-in-San Francisco love story about a single mom who rents her in-law unit to a man fresh out of the monastery after a 20-year love-hate relationship with contemplative life. Though the story sometimes threatens to dip into typical summer chick lit, the author manages to keep the former monk's struggle to reintegrate into life, and make sense of God, very real. It's touching to see him rediscover life after being released from the cloister. Perfect antidote if you've been reading too many serious spiritual search books. Note: one of Rilke's poems from his Book of Hours is quoted in the opening of Part III of the book.
Linda
Rebecca Martin, a divorced single parent, has an apartment in her house to rent. The first applicant is Michael Christopher, recently a monk who has left the monastery to find his way back into the world. Rebecca struggles with her job as a graphic artist, and her relationships with her ex-husband Rory, her daughter Mary Martha, her mother Phoebe, and with Bob, whose marriage proposal she has recently turned down. Michael gets a job flipping burgers at McDonalds, and corresponds with one of the Rebecca Martin, a divorced single parent, has an apartment in her house to rent. The first applicant is Michael Christopher, recently a monk who has left the monastery to find his way back into the world. Rebecca struggles with her job as a graphic artist, and her relationships with her ex-husband Rory, her daughter Mary Martha, her mother Phoebe, and with Bob, whose marriage proposal she has recently turned down. Michael gets a job flipping burgers at McDonalds, and corresponds with one of the monks he has known, who tries to save Michael’s soul. This all comes together as a tender love story and a very readable novel.
Gina Boyd
I was surprised by how much I liked this book, and by how much I identified with the Rebecca, the main character. She's a single mom who doesn't hate her ex-husband, and she works as a graphic designer (which she remarks often feels like playing, as does working as a librarian for me).

I loved Michael Christopher, who was painted just as I would hope an ec-monk would be.

I loved Mary Martha, and the weight on MC's mind about the dilemma between Mary and Martha, and action and prayer.

The whole boo I was surprised by how much I liked this book, and by how much I identified with the Rebecca, the main character. She's a single mom who doesn't hate her ex-husband, and she works as a graphic designer (which she remarks often feels like playing, as does working as a librarian for me).

I loved Michael Christopher, who was painted just as I would hope an ec-monk would be.

I loved Mary Martha, and the weight on MC's mind about the dilemma between Mary and Martha, and action and prayer.

The whole book was exactly my cup of tea, and gives me hope that maybe someday I *will* end up in a relationship. And I haven't thought that in a long time.
Laura
I've had this book on my to-read list for several years, and was excited to find it at the library sale for $1.00. It was well-worth the wait and the price--this is a lovely little tale about love, family, and second chances. Take one divorced, single mother with an eccentric mother and a young daughter, add a former monk who rents her apartment downstairs, and you get the basic idea where this is going. What surprised me most was that the the male author wrote so eloquently about being a woman! I've had this book on my to-read list for several years, and was excited to find it at the library sale for $1.00. It was well-worth the wait and the price--this is a lovely little tale about love, family, and second chances. Take one divorced, single mother with an eccentric mother and a young daughter, add a former monk who rents her apartment downstairs, and you get the basic idea where this is going. What surprised me most was that the the male author wrote so eloquently about being a woman!

Crissi
This was one of those books that made me want to crawl up within the pages. I could relate with all the characters - the single mom sneaking smokes throughout the day, the former monk grappling with his faith, the feelings of timid love, the struggles with a childlike ex. It's probably because of the situations within this book that I love it so much, but it helps that Tim Farrington writes with such descriptive prose. I count this as one of my favorite books of all time, and it's this book that This was one of those books that made me want to crawl up within the pages. I could relate with all the characters - the single mom sneaking smokes throughout the day, the former monk grappling with his faith, the feelings of timid love, the struggles with a childlike ex. It's probably because of the situations within this book that I love it so much, but it helps that Tim Farrington writes with such descriptive prose. I count this as one of my favorite books of all time, and it's this book that made me devour everything else Farrington has ever written.
Andrea

This was a delightful book that I read back in 2004. I remember that it was a unique story because it was about people who were from two different worlds experiencing the same thing. They were both experiencing major changes in their lives. The reading was easy and well written. It was an interesting and intelligent book! I am going to make sure that I read more of this author's stories. When a person reads so much we often forget all the great books we have read and then we go back and read so
This was a delightful book that I read back in 2004. I remember that it was a unique story because it was about people who were from two different worlds experiencing the same thing. They were both experiencing major changes in their lives. The reading was easy and well written. It was an interesting and intelligent book! I am going to make sure that I read more of this author's stories. When a person reads so much we often forget all the great books we have read and then we go back and read some of our notes and find hidden gems.
Meg
It's shocking that this wasn't written by a woman. Perfect example of escapism literature.
Some real obvious symbolism, like naming the daughter MaryMartha to drive home the theme that isolated prayer and worship isn't fulfilling. It's the relationships that matter.
Redemption: the beach-bum father reforms at the end with Rebecca's help with bail. Hair seems important. Rory cuts his surfer locks to signify a change. Michael's monk-cut grows out as he adapts to being needed. Gardening: Phoebe h It's shocking that this wasn't written by a woman. Perfect example of escapism literature.
Some real obvious symbolism, like naming the daughter MaryMartha to drive home the theme that isolated prayer and worship isn't fulfilling. It's the relationships that matter.
Redemption: the beach-bum father reforms at the end with Rebecca's help with bail. Hair seems important. Rory cuts his surfer locks to signify a change. Michael's monk-cut grows out as he adapts to being needed. Gardening: Phoebe has a stroke but survives. All happy at the end.
Gillian
Great modern love story with the addition of odd element: A monk who has left the monastery. The contrast of monastic themes of passivity vs. action and the reality of a single mom's working life works well and entertains in this book. Add an elderly sick parent and a hopeless ex-husband, her other realities, and you have a satisfying and insightful read into all situations. This was a page-turner for me. Can't wait to read the sequel: The Monk Upstairs.
Michelle
This is a Christian fiction book that is good for Christians and non-Christians alike. The story is that of a Catholic monk who leaves the monastery after 20 years after he decides that he is not fulfilling the life that God has planned for him. He rents a room in the house owned by a single mom who is disillusioned with the Church. A romance ensues. The story has interesting discussion of religious ideas, good and bad, as well as a nice real-world romance.
Anne
This is a lovely romance between a former monk and a divorcee with a daughter and an irresponsible ex-husband. Of course there are bumps in the road and we see the woman wrestle with whether or not to attempt love again, especially with an ascetic previously engaged in a love affair with God. We also see the monk wrestling with his former life in a series of letters to "Brother James". A very readable book.
Rrshively
I enjoyed the love story, but I could definitely tell it was written by a man. I think, whether they could admit it or not, that the two main characters needed some of the qualities the other had and needed to change in that direction. I didn't mind the struggles in the mind that each had so much although my religious background does not help me understand Catholicism to any great degree. I skipped over or quickly scanned the parts that seemed obscure to my way of thinking.
Carissa
I just spotted this book at the library and it looked interesting so I picked it up. It's a light love story about two people from very different backgrounds trying to come together. They both have issues they are working through, but it was a little more explicit than I would have liked it to be in one scene. There is a second book, "The Monk Upstairs", but I'm not sure that I will read it. I'm still on the fence with this one.
Sandra Hutchison
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I love the disgruntled, disillusioned, yet quietly dignified hero, and I love the heroine and the way she balances on the edge of chaos, and most of all I love how comically and yet romantically these two interact. I love a book that manages to be intelligent and serious and funny about Christianity without getting the least bit heavy-handed about it. To this day I continue to scoop up copies to give away to friends.
Bobbi
A monk spends most of his life in a monastery, say's "fuck this" and winds up renting a single mother's downstairs apartment and working at McDonald's. I would have liked it better if it was a tale of the monk's transition back to the "real" world, but instead it was an annoying romance that begins with the monk and his landlord smoking cigarettes on the back porch. Well-written though, I'll give it that.
Ann
A lovely novel by the author of "the California book of the Dead'. A disillusioned single mother rents her in-law apartment to a man who's just left a monastery after 20 years. Can they find love?
The nice thing about love stories written by men is that there is not too much soul-searching going on. A little internal dialogue is fine, endless short-circuiting self-doubt is off-putting. Tim Farrington gets it just right.
Ron
A clever story about a divorced artist with a young daughter who rents her downstairs room to a conflicted monk who has just fled a monastary after 20 years. The setting is in San Francsico's sunset district and the plot is full of twists and turns as the relationship between these two intriguing people develops from cautious curiosty to dependency and then love. Good book with a real down to earth flavor to it.
Phair
My recommendation for f2f book discussion and it turned out to be a good one- not outstanding but nice, and memorable. A pleasant read with lots of good philosophical observations about life and relationships. It seemed a bit unfinished but I think the point is that life is unfinished until the end, too. Everything is change- you can't hole up in that one moment of perfect peace forever and still live. Nice intermix of poetry, scripture & dialog in letters and in conversation.
Mum
The book had it's wonderful and humorous moment, but author lets you decide for yourself who is managing his or her life, and who is not. The monk's letters to his friend often caused me to stop reading, because I knew I had to really think my way through the letters. I would start there the nest time I picked the book up and gain a new insight. This book is 3.5 stars, better than a "three" but not quite a "four."
D
very high 3s. in fact, i might come back and pull this up to 4.

a wonderful story about a single mom who rents her basement apartment to an ex-monk.

very thoughtful. very respectful. wonderful meditations on solitude and prayer and god and living in or away from life's distractions.

beautiful prose. funny. vivid. realistic. even the tertiary characters were fully drawn. talented author.

recommended.
Kendra Galyean
Are there ever times when you just need a book? Something to speak to you, comfort you, and help you make sense of everything? This was that book for me. I was in such a strange place with my fiance and in my own life, and I felt so lost and alone; and to top it all off, I felt like I hadn't read a good book in months. This book turned it all around. It is absolutely joyful, from beginning to end. I will be coming back to it often.
Matt
There were a few nice passages, but overall a terribly dull and predictable story featuring long, banal passages describing the tiny and tedious life of a bitchy and unsympathetic woman who was her own worst enemy, and the saintly former monk that sacrifices all to be with her, though it's unclear to the very last page why... I thought many times of ditching the book, and if it had went on any longer, I probably wouldn't have gotten through it.
Lara Krupicka
I like this story - it's good, if predictable. Mike (the monk) came across as internally conflicted, but we see no particular flaws in him - so he was likable, but not necessarily realistic. I think this story brings up some philosophical questions and I really enjoyed the growth in Rebecca's character and what she learns about herself.
Martha
This novel skipped some beats, but it had some wonderfully thoughtful moments about family and love and belief. It had some funny moments too - so much of what I read is short on humor - the heavy plodding through life. I also appreciated Mary Martha -a savvy child who is not too precocious and worldly as so many fictional children are portrayed.
Rosie
I tend to be drawn to books about middle aged women that feel lost in their life, haha. I feel like it should have its own genre name! I enjoyed it, it is a very relaxing read, and very hopeful as well. There is not much more I feel that I can say, other than it was pleasant and I can add it to my collection of "Middle-aged-females-having-crises" books that I've enjoyed :).
Jaime
this is a love story that is based on all of the ingredients that make sense to me: compassion, kindness, affection, intimacy, calm, laughter, loss, god... but mostly real-love and the recognition and power of spirit.

tim farrington understands the language and silence of a woman quite beautifully.
Anne
This book was far more layered and compelling than I expected - also more of a romance. I thought the characters were beautifully drawn, and the pace was excellent. I really enjoyed it, and I highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a nice, quick, thoughtful read. The sequel, The Monk Upstairs, is also good, although as with many sequels, does not hold a candle to the first.
penelopewanders
Lent to me by a friend in Paris, and as I'm returning soon, I figured it was time to read it.
On the whole an enjoyable and moving tale of two rather disillusioned people who find each other. I was not the most receptive audience for the theological aspects of the book, of which there are plenty, but barring that, I enjoyed it.
Ann
Well, my reading group chose this book. It was pleasant, easy and did make me think about religion and howm some people struggle with their convictions. Other than that it was okay. I usually enjoy learning something from a book, even if it just take you to another country and culture and this did not.
Jenn
A kind of love story, or a realization story. Either way, writing how love feels to a woman by a man, in this case, didn't work. I'm not sure I'd refer to any lovemaking as like a trained seal.

Interesting concept for a story - man leaves monastery and falls in love with landlady. I didn't really enjoy the writing much though.
Andrea
Not a bad read. Reasonably well-written, though a tad predictable. I was hoping for a stronger tie-in to the Martha/Mary dichotomy, I never did quite get the point of the "letters," and I don't think the author has a clue how to write about children. And yet I enjoyed the book enough to finish it relatively quickly.
Jennie Floyd
J really enjoyed this book. It's predictable - former monk moves into basement apartment, falls in love with newly single landlady, complications ensue - but the characters are fully developed, charming people that you want to spend more time with. It's well-written and you will root for everything to turn out okay for the couples involved. A quick, fun read.
Kathy
Maybe a 4/5 is high ... but I really enjoyed it and was surprised by how spriritually relevant is was to me. From the cover, I thought it would be merely entertaining. I was pleased by many of the sentences - the writer is striving for the literary, yet still highly readable by the "masses", and by the contemplations scattered here and there throughout. A thoroughly good read.
Eileen
This was an interesting, entertaining and captivating book. I enjoyed the style of writing as well as the content. The juxtapositioning of the 'real world' with the contemplative religious world was fascinating. Characters were believable and intriguing. A finely balanced combination of thought provoking passages with real life challenges.
MA
Very quiet, contemplative book. I enjoyed that part of the story was told through letters between the former monk and one of his fellow brothers who remIned at the monastery: wrestling with the dark nights of the soul. That said, there is plenty of humor in addition to the spiritual contemplation. A great book, for those who like these sorts of things.
Tom
Found this book browsing random shelves in the library. Sweet story. Good enough to make be look for more books by this author at the next trip to the library. Contains no blood or gore (that's a good thing).
Maria
When I picked this up, I was looking for something a bit more lighthearted and I'm so glad I found this. It's a charming love story that teeters on the brink of being 'chick lit,' yet holds strong with good writing and interesting characters. Simply put: it's a lovely read.
Anne
I acquired this book somehow don't know exactly how... but it is a great find and a wonderful book. I recommend this story if you dont really like romancy type books. I see why it was a notable book excellent... onto the monk upstairs..
Brice Bowman
I was really disappointed by this book. I picked it up because one of the main characters has a crisis of faith and I was interested in reading about what happened. Unfortunately, the passages that dealt with it were really muddled and unclear.
Barbara
I really enjoyed this story and how nicely the author developed the characters. I should say that I didn't really read the letters carefully....honestly, I just wanted a good, happy ending, love story. I'm sure they added to it, but maybe I'll catch them next time around.
Jamie L
Ex monk moves into recently divorced single mother's basement apartment.

I'm only a few chapters into the book, but it's compelling, so it's moving quickly.

Finished! It was a sweet little love story without being totally sappy...just a little sap involved.

Carrie
You know how you can tell that this book was written by a man? The female protagonist calls the monk who lives downstairs by his last name. Women just don't do that; men do. Other than that (and it really bothered me, whether it'a a legitimate or not), this book was great.
Jo-lynne
A gentle love story. The two main characters are both likeable and endearing. Rebecca is a single mother who seems wise beyond her years; Michael is an ex-monk who's been in a monastery for 20 years. He is Rebecca's tenant and their unlikely friendship grows...
luxelibrarian
Some people have just a great lyrical voice when writing - and Tim Farrington sure does :) I have the next book that follows - can't wait to read it. If you are close to some religious people - you will like this book. Very spot on.
Meg
This is the worst book I have ever read. I only continued as I was at my sister's and in need of something to appear busy with. It was predictable, unrealistic....badly written...and just plain BORING. Don't bother...no matter what fantasies you might have of sleeping with a monk.
Kristen
I LOVE Tim's books. This one is I haven't read in a long time, but own and adore. It, and it's counterpart The Monk Upstairs, really made me think and self reflect. It can be hard for some to get into, but it is well worth it if you like things off the beaten path.
Maura
Sweet and thoughtful romantic book about a man learning to live outside the bounds of a religious order. Single Mom rents a apartment to man and over time a well developed relationship based on love begins.
Cory
This was a delightful love story with two imperfect people learning who the other person is. The author perhaps moved the development of the relationship a little faster than I'm guessing most relationships progress in real life. But her characters are delightful and I enjoyed the read.
Kittygabe
Although not your typical chic book this one is still for the the ladies. I did enjoy the characters in this one and thought they were very realistic. For the most part this book was an easy relaxing read. There was nothing too awesome about it but I still enjoyed it.
Jennifer
This was really good, and I couldn't put it down... I felt like I was watching the lives of two people, not reading about them, I didn't want to book to end, and alas, I hear (or should I say read) that there is a sequel
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