The Monk Downstairs
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The Monk Downstairs (Monk)

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  1,035 ratings  ·  174 reviews
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 ap...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 29th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2002)
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Christa
The Monk Downstairs was a sweet and very different love story. Both the hero and heroine had many issues to deal with from their respective pasts. Michael Christopher has just left a monastery after twenty years as a monk. He is disenchanted with life, and doesn't believe happiness is in his future. Rebecca Martin is a single mom who has all but given up on finding love. These two characters are flawed, and both have issues to deal with that stand in the way of a relationship together, but watch...more
Salimah
the current cover of this book is a disappointing cop out. I own this book in hardback, with an original, much more poetic cover (a sepia photograph of a woman's foot and a bit of her dress), but I digress.

I dreamt in the language of this book for days. After I was finished I held it for a long, long time...

I was in love with this monk, who is sexual, charming, innocent, funny, spirited, and true believer, and who makes a believer of the woman who loves him. If you'd like to read a compelling...more
Amanda
I liked this one. I don't have a crappy ex-husband or a monk living downstairs - but I think this book was well written. She captured the brittle way that damaged people guard their privacy and their hearts, and how difficult it is to let anyone in.
I have the new book, The Monk Upstairs, and look forward to reading it.
Brenda (b)
I read several enthusiastic reviews about this book and was curious so I picked it up. It was a terrific story. Since its genre is fiction rather than romance, it wasn't from my normal reading category, but one of the main elements of the story is the development of the romantic relationship between Rebecca and Michael. I was pulled into their struggle with their feelings for one another and trying to make their lives work together. The other element was that of religious belief and I'll admit t...more
Mary Helene
How often do we read about the real spiritual lives of people? It's more elusive than sex. This book includes all of it - a lovely romance and a struggle for faith. I was sorry for it to end, and delighted to hear there's a sequel.
Bill Glose
A lost monk finds his way again through his upstairs neighbor. A cynical, single mother learns to hope again through her downstairs tenant. At its core, The Monk Downstairs is a love story, but it is so much more. Farrington’s storytelling is philosophical, spiritual, and whimsical, and somehow he pulls off this complex mix without seeming condescending. As the single mother and the monk downstairs move past earlier, regrettable decisions into an unknown future, readers can’t help being filled w...more
Carolyn
This is a warm and intelligent book about a single mother who rents the basement apartment in her house to a man just leaving a monastery after 20 years as a monk. I found it on the book sharing shelf of a business in my neighborhood. The monk, Michael Christopher, ends up getting a job at McDonald's and some of the reflections on his work there, shared through letters with Brother James back at the monastery, are wonderful. "...as my colleagues at McDonald's put it, "My bad."...The ritual respo...more
Andi
Some weeks ago someone (identify yourself if you will) reviewed this book on their blog, and I thought - well, I should read that. Now, usually I think that, put it on a list, and don't get back to it for years or decades. But this book - The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington - actually came through BookMooch right away, and I happened to want to read something romantic but not silly. So last night, there I was finishing the book in an evening - I can't remember the last time that happened with...more
Anne
I borrowed this book based on the title alone. Who wouldn't want to read a book about a monk living downstairs? In this case, an ex-monk, who has left his monastery, disenchanted with his life of prayer and inaction. He moves into the in-law unit of single mom, Rebecca, who has decided once and for all that she no longer needs love in her life. Her 6-year old daughter plays with unicorns, adores her good-for-nothing surfer father, and takes an immediate liking to Michael Christopher, the monk. O...more
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...more
Heidi
While I enjoyed the conversations between Rebecca and the monk and how their relationship grew, the book became weighed down with what was supposed to be deep spiritual thoughts, but I found to be nothing more than vain rhetoric meant to make the author sound smart. Is the monk life a manifestation of religious conviction or escape from the responsibilities of the real world? I guess the monastic life seems like a waste to me. Who are you serving, but yourself if all you do is pray and in the ca...more
Claire
I was surprised by how much I liked this book--not being religious myself, I was dubious about how much I could be pulled into the story of an ex-monk and a middle aged single mom with one child. That I was pulled in to this quietly contemplative novel is, I think, a testament to the artistry of the author (who is male, by the way, and creates a very convincing and deep female character.) What touched me most about this novel was its portrayal of grief and the characters' reactions to it. It was...more
Kayne Spooner
This story is about a single mother that rents her downstairs apartment to a Monk going through a crisis of faith. The book is full of eccentrics and thoughtful humor. I heard Julia Roberts ahd bought the movie rights and wish she would get around to making this movie! I was glad to see the sequel, A Monk Upstairs, come out and would love to see another.
Kat
An unexpectedly good love story, unexpectedly written by a man. There is something fascinating about the idea of an ex-monk, and Farrington deftly makes use of it. It is a sweet, engaging tale--not at all over the top.
Jennifer James
I discovered this book years ago, quite by accident, while browsing at a bookstore. What a lovely discovery.

The Monk Downstairs is basically a love story: a jaded, smart single mom (Rebecca) with all the kooky baggage that comes with that title rents an extra room to a kind, spiritually lost, wanderer (Mike) who turns out to be a runaway monk with a penchant for gardening, cigarettes, meditation, and candor. Their relationship grows into a romantic one, and the story tells how.

But what makes thi...more
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...more
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...more
Tania
-- thought provoking, would recommend.

quotes#358953

Maybe that was what real love was, being willing to charge toward the busy, noisy place that someone else inhabited and find what comfort there you could. p140

She felt like making phone calls: to Bonnie, to her mother. The situation called for consideration at length. But she suspected that both women would be unreservedly supportive of the kiss and its potential consequences. Bonnie believed that love could be competently assembled from availa...more
Kate
I recently did a health fair for work, and had to share a table with the Fairfax County Public Library's NLS for the Disabled representative. We got to talking books since she had a couple of my old favorites on display and then it turned out we were both in book clubs. So she asked what kind of books we were reading and I asked her what book her club was currently reading, and she said they like to read women's fiction that's not chick lit, and they were reading this book, The Monk Downstairs,...more
Judy
Rebecca, the female protagonist, & Mike, the male counterpoint, each had issues from their pasts that needed excavating, & at times, Rebecca seemed incredibly slow. Events seemed to be needed for her to either explore within her mind or, God forbid, with a boyfriend! She's had bad boyfriend luck thus far, one of whom became her husband & father of their daughter, Mary Margaret.

I liked Rebecca's mom, Phoebe. She lives in Bolinas, surrounds herself with interesting people & has a...more
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.
Blaire
I loved this book!
It's a love story that is told with great perceptiveness and tenderness. I was really impressed by the author's ability to get inside his female protagonist's head. All of the characters were well-imagined, and their interactions were very believable.
It's also a sort of meditation on how one pursues a spiritual path through life, and on that level it's just as successful. It's incredibly hard to write about spiritual matters without sounding either trite or pedantic. Farringt...more
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...more
adventurat
Does a book about a single woman finding love in quirky and endearing fashion (rather than in formulaic category romance fashion) count as 'chicklit' if the author is male? Does it count as chicklit if the male lead is every bit as quirky as the female lead? If he is perhaps moreso? If they're in their late 30's/early 40's? If they're both rather inept at relationships, and have baggage? If neither of them is rich or powerful? If there's no element of rescue?

This book is hard to classify, actual...more
Melissa
About 1/3 of the way into the book:
Great so far!!
Interesting characters, interesting parallels (not too subtle and not overly done), gems of word choice here and there (again, not over-done).
I'm eager for my next chance to sit down and keep reading!

After finishing it:
I had to remind myself that the book was written by a male author. His portrayal of his female character (her motivations, fears, etc) was insightful. It was his male character that occasionally left me wondering about his motivati...more
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....more
Diana Young
It was a very enjoyable read - alternately humorous and heartwarming. The engaging plot is driven by misunderstandings and missed opportunities that lead to personal growth and even love.
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...more
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...more
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...more
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“We are born to love as we are born to die, and between the heartbeats of those two great mysteries lies all the tangled undergrowth of our tiny lives. There is nowhere to go but through. And so we walk on, lost, and lost again, in the mapless wilderness of love.” 269 likes
“...he smelled like somebody trying to smell like somebody else.” 1 likes
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