The Monk Upstairs: A Novel
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The Monk Upstairs: A Novel (Monk)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  262 ratings  ·  55 reviews
When Rebecca Martin finds the love of her life, it's finally time to cross off one giant task from life's to-do list. But not so fast. The wedding is a minor disaster, the honeymoon doesn't get much better, and then the biggest shock of all—living together as monk and wife.

Rebecca couldn't help falling in love with a monk, but that doesn't make it any easier. Mike is up be...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by HarperOne (first published May 1st 2007)
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Tim Farrington is one of my favorite authors. His writing combines deep, wide compassion with a sharp ear for verbal banter and an ironic, nimble sense of humor. His sensibility seems very Buddhist to me; the heart of his fiction is the idea that everything changes and ends, and yet all of the chaos and fluctuations of life and death are ultimately manifestations of Love. His works often deal with people dying, and this book is no exception.
Harry Allagree
For me, Tim Farrington's first novel,The Monk Downstairs, was like a religious experience. Not only did I read it twice, I also based a whole retreat on it in 2005 for a group of Affiliates of the Order of Julian of Norwich. Only recently did I learn about his sequel, published in 2007, The Monk Upstairs. It continues the saga of the relationship of an ex-monk, Mike, with a young, savvy, witty, but disgruntled divorcée, Rebecca, who has a precocious daughter, Mary Martha, and a very hip mother,...more
The sequel to Farrington's Monk Upstairs delivered the same warm, human realistic type of story. We learn more about the main characters' lives and values and see them grow in their relationships. Delightful, funny and a pure pleasure to read.
This book had a different tone than the first, but still felt like a very real picture of the characters and what they were going through. Again, I was surprised by how much I was pulled into their story and how much I sympathized with their troubles and failures. Again, too, the best part of the book was how quietly contemplative it was, how utterly real yet soft it was. Flaubert writes with a realism that's like a harsh fluorescent light: it exposes everything without mercy and almost makes a...more
I thoroughly enjoyed The Monk Downstairs, the prequel to this book, and I was glad to find that I liked The Monk Upstairs even more. I found this book to be very touching. The main characters were entirely sympathetic, and I enjoyed reading about how they melded and established a life together. Michael is a very unusual but wonderful hero, and Rebecca is a likeable heroine. These two books have made me a fan of Tim Farrington, and I will be reading more by him.

The Monk Upstairs begins on the wed...more
Amy L
I enjoyed it more then is reflected in the starred rating. Perhaps 3 1/2 stars...I think it was kind of an easy read but laced with serious religious and life contemplating thought. Upon reflection not truly believable as fiction goes but the writing was above average. The dialogue, inner and outer was well done. Not the deepest novel but not a mindless read either (I feel Twiglight series to be in the "mindless read" genre). I found the characters commonly relatable and sympathetic. Never thoug...more
I have read and enjoyed both of Farrington's "Monk" books. They are gentle and real, with no big surprises. The stories are about a former monk who steps out into the real world. He is learning about the messiness of human love and real world faith in action. "Mike, she knew, was really not all that nice,...he was, was almost unfailingly kind, which in practice usually amounted to the same thing."p.169 This book made me think about my walk and putting my faith into real life. It doesn't hurt tha...more
Leola Ogle
This was a cute story about Rebecca, who marries Mike, a former monk. Rebecca has a young daughter, a quirky, yet delightful mother, Phoebe(Phoebe was my favorite character) who struggles with dementia the the after effects of a stroke. Rebecca also has a somewhat meddlesome, but in a winsome way, ex-husband. In fact, this whole book is filled with an assortment of unusual, but lovable, characters. Mike left the monastery after 20 years, works at McDonald's, and spend hours each day in prayer in...more
As I mentioned, I'd read The Monk Downstairs a few years back. I remember liking it (though I checked it out from the library and have no review written on BookCrossing, so can't recall specifics.) But the general feeling was positive enough that when I saw this book on the "New Books" shelf, I picked it up. It is a book that combines many elements that again interest me: spirituality, love, mother-daughter relations for starters. As part of the plot, the adult daughter is confronted with her o...more
This book was such a tremendous let down. Really. It was just okay. I heartily recommend The Monk Downstairs, it's predecessor, but cannot do the same for this one. The narrative of the first book enveloped me, warmed me, and sparked me. This was like a cup of tepid coffee. I would never have fallen in love with this version of the former monk and found the easy resolutions boring and campy. As far as I'm concerned,this book was far too preoccupied with a secondary character. Ugh. Just not compe...more
Mary Helene
The first chapter is NOT disappointing. One worries so with a sequel. It's a very good book, but I am bothered by a few factual lapses. It seems silly in such an edifying book to fuss, but here are my quibbles
1) Catholics do not and never have used the King James translation at Mass. (p.110) This bothered me, trying to figure out why someone as knowledgeable as the author would falsify the scripture quote.
2) It’s “eternal rest grant unto them”, not “rest eternal.” (p.235) Odd. Why reverse it?
Delightful read and a few tears to round out the numerous times of laughter!
Jennifer (JC-S)
I really enjoyed this novel, and have given it 5 stars in my review at

For those who are not familiar with Tim Farrington, I suggest reading 'The Monk Downstairs' first because you will meet most of the major characters there.

This is a novel about relationships, changing roles and life itself. Mr Farrington has a wonderfully elegant, spare prose style that makes these novels a joy to read.
I read the first book about four times, each time getting something new from it as Rebecca allowed a little bit of light to shine through her bitter armor and Michael Christopher learned to deal with the secular world.

This book however was a disappointment. Rebecca seemed even more angry and embittered than she did the first time, making me wonder if her realizations about life and love in "The Monk Downstairs" were indeed valid... sadly, The Monk Upstairs ruined my memory of The Monk Downstairs...more
I read this just after I read a book ("Leaving a Trace") that was largely about the craft of writing. This caused me to really notice Farrington's writing style. His descriptions were vivid and unusual. He wrote skillfully from a variety of adult perspectives, including some moving passages from the point of view of a stroke victim. A beautiful story of grown-up love. Sequel to "The Monk Downstairs," but so well written it could probably stand on its own.
This is the sequel to 'The Monk Downstairs'. I wanted to re-read this because the Libary has chosen 'Still Alice' for June 2010. "Still Alice' concerns a woman's descent into Alzheimers, and it reminded me of the story of Phoebe in this 'Monk' novel. Phoebe is the main character's (Rebecca) mother and has had a fairly severe stroke. The way her story is handled is sensitive and beautiful.
An excellent sequel to The Monk Downstairs. For those who have read TMD, you know the story of Rebecca and Mike, and I was glad that this sequel didn't just prolong their story for story's sake. This sequel is the story of Phoebe, Rebecca's mother...and a beautiful story it is.
I loved both this book & the one previous--THE MONK DOWNSTAIRS. Now Rebecca & Mike are married & learning to live together as a family. Phoebe, Rebecca's mom, is a beautiful character whose thoughts & feelings are elegantly & poignantly written. Mike's new job as a hospice worker is right up his alley, as is parenting Rebecca's daughter & ministering to Phoebe. A sweet story....
A bit disappointing considering how much I loved The Monk Downstairs. Perhaps my lack of pleasure had something to do with an interview I read with him in which he mentioned that he had just ended a marriage. Believe me I could see why. These people were way too perfect.
Not nearly as good as The Monk Downstairs. It sort of seemed like he wrote it just to capitalize on the popularity of the previous book. All a bit mundane and none of the excitement of the first one.
LeAnn Hodges
This series was just a LOT of fun! It was very light and quite real. This second book did an incredibly beautiful job of dealing with death, love, and all the crazy complexities of life in the company of others. Only reason I didn't give them a 5 is because, well, I don't know. I really did enjoy them a lot.
Deborah Joyner
A continuation of the "Monk Downstairs," this novel picks up with Michael and Rebecca on the eve of their marriage. Funny and serious in turns, the book explores the building of a marriage on the rubble of prior relationships, the difference of perspective on death of the ailing, and how children perceive religion.
dispatches from the library
Great novel! I do think the first one was a tad better, just for the plot line (and was a bit less depressing), but Tim Farrington is one author who gets relationships here and now. If you are a current Catholic or even a lapsed one, you'll love the tidbits of Catholic humor. Farrington nails it on the head.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Where can a romance go when chapter one is a wedding? Surprisingly, this book goes into the heart of real marriage, the struggles that go with finding ways to get along with another person. In addition, it goes into the heart of real spirituality. For a light novel, it is unusually thoughtful.
This has substance, without excess weight. A nice story, told well, and memorable characters. I understand why Tim Farrington stayed with them for this follow-up to The Monk Downstairs. I'll put the prequel on my list, even though the only edition available is the large-print version.
To some extent pretty much a disappointment from the first one -- although it wasn't like The Monk Downstairs was great literature either. It's just a story line I like about people with separate lives living together in the same space.
Patty Garland
At first I felt disappointed. I wanted more of the witty banter from the first book. But by the middle of this novel I realized the maturity the author expected from his reader, and the beautiful inner landscape he invited us to explore.

I loved this sequel to A Monk Downstairs. It covers all the major themes of life - love, loss, faith, grief - without any hokeyness. I got really attached to the characters and didn't want it to end.
I liked The Monk Downstairs so much and was disappointed in this sequel. Nothing new here for me. Maybe Farrington should have left well enough alone and not gone back a second time around.
Apparently this is the second in a series and I've not read the first one. Overall, I liked this book. It was an easy read. The writing is good; the overall plot a bit predictable maybe.
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“ I don't care if you're spoiled, for God's sake! I'm spoiled. We're all spoiled, life does that. It's what you do with yourself after you realize you've been spoiled that matters. It's the life you make in the ruins. ” 1 likes
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