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A Month of Sundays

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,167 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Written ad libidum as occupational therapy, this book is both a confession and a testament.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 29th 1993 by knopf (first published 1974)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.”

There is SEX in this book. There is ADULTERY in this book. There is PEEPING in this book. OMG there is also GOLF in this book which with its phallic clubs, balls, and holes is also (baffling) about SEX.

We meet Reverend Thomas Marshfield in the pages of his confessional writings from his incarceration in a country club for fallen priests and ministers where he is being punish by playing GOLF and POKE-HER with his f
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: A select audience not offended by frank sexuality
Recommended to Lawyer by: The library shelves of Prof. Elizabeth Huggins
A Month of Sundays, John Updike's Unreliable Gospel According to Thomas Marshfield

Meet Thomas Marshfield, a Christian Minister tending to a flock somewhere back East, above and beyond the pale of Ministry, especially where his female congregants are concerned. Here is a contemporary Doubting Thomas, on a Sabbatical of sorts. He is, short of being de-frocked, sent to a desolate motel, located in the desert, a program for ministers who have, shall we say problems regarding human frailty.

Thomas con
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Alicia in bed was a revelation. At last I confronted as in an ecstatic mirror my own sexual demon. In such a hurry we did not always take time to remove socks and necklaces and underthings that clung to us then like shards or epaulettes, we would tumble upon her low square bed…”
Where do the priests guilty of sin of adultery and fornication go? No, they don’t go to hell, they go to a remote retreat for recreation, contemplation of their sinful past and to take a rest from their tedious sins… And
I hadn't read any Updike for years, the premise of this one was appealing (a promiscuous priest, sent away to consider the conflict between his sexual shenanigans and his faith), it was only £2.99 on a charity stall, and I don't have to like the protagonist to like a book, but this... I didn't enjoy it (2*). It was well-written in many ways (3*), but Tom was just too unpleasant. I tried make allowances for different mores, but whereas his misogyny and homophobia would be understandable in a Vict ...more
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to brian by: montambo. heh heh.
a month of Sundays: a cross between winter light (grim bergman movie about a priest who loses his faith) and hot and saucy pizza girls (70s porno)… from some kind of desert sanitarium for holy men gone bad, reverend marshfield writes a memoir about his days of preaching fucking and sucking. one sees where updike was going with all this, but he never gets there. The anguish and frustration is occasionally felt, but for the most part, one imagines the author at his type-writer with half-wood, a sm ...more
Greg Z
Aug 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Having just finished Updike's four Rabbit novels, I wanted to try something else by this author. Priced at 25 cents at a used book store, "A Month of Sundays" appeared out of the blue, so why not? I read about 20 pages yesterday, and was ready to throw it in the garbage. The writing seemed ponderously affected with a bit of sex thrown in: perhaps the result of a contest entitled something like "Bad Nabokov". So I read the most recent five reviews here on goodreads, and they averaged three stars, ...more
Jamie Howison
I re-read this one (probably 20 years after I first read it...) thanks to a friend calling it "undisguised, misogynistic erotica for male clergy." I strongly disagreed with her, but then said that I would re-read it and then we could talk more. I have to admit I no longer find it quite so powerful a read as I once did...

Yet it was the 70s when Updike wrote this one, and that was an era in which the church had kind of lost the compass in terms of any kind of a healthy perspective on sexuality (a
Bruce Beckham
Mar 28, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine Lionel Messi, alone in a gym, with just a ball.

I don’t doubt his skills would be sublime, captivating – indeed teetering tantalisingly upon the very limits of believability.

But probably only watchable for about ten minutes.

Keepy-uppy lacks the narrative of a competitive match.

This is probably why it's not a globally televised sport, while soccer is.

For Messi and ball, substitute Updike and typewriter.

Bring on A Month of Sundays.

And, voila: wordy-uppy. (A crueller critic might say assy-up
Stu Moore
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Had not read any Updike in quite a while so very much enjoyed this one. All of the typical WASP-y male adulterous angst and this time of a preacher. Not sure JU ever even told us what kind of preacher, but a protestant one who has gotten in trouble for sleeping with women in his flock under the watchful eye of his wife and the associate pastor. He writes these lines from a camp for men of God who have been bad that is perhaps in either New Mexico or Arizona (most likely the latter). I don't reme ...more
Joseph Durham
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Updike's prose, is concisely written, carefully crafted, is poetry in another form. This novel describes a fallen world that continues to be guided by Christian belief. Life is not always a pretty place, but there remain moments of redemption in it, always.
Nov 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most honest depictions of human weakness ever. Love the humor and genius of his composition.
Sara S.
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly memorable, for its clever, goatish, and irreverent protagonist. Written in epistolary form, a conceit I find hard to resist.
Mike Page
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, fiction
This took a while to read. It's a hard read morally, and I was wary to enjoy it too much. (If you did not finish this book for moral reasons I find that commendable - something I usually don't for a book.) I think in the end, Updike was playing with us a bit. He turns the table on "you, dear reader" in this novel, especially in the last chapter. He tricks us to think we are observing, only finding out later we are participating. By taking advantage of our propensity for the salacious, he gives u ...more
Elizabeth Moeller
I am not a religious person and so I wasn't sure if I would be able to take much from this story of a minister who has had affairs with multiple members of his congregation and is sent to a desert retreat after being asked to step aside. The minister, in the form of writing a narrative as part of his recuperation, details the acts that have led to him being relieved of his post. However, he also struggles with the internal loss of faith, or at least change in his understanding of faith, which le ...more
Dean Anderson
This story of a minister in rehab for what now might be called "sexual addiction" doesn't quite work for me as a whole but I love many of the parts. I could have done without the excursions into golf and poker. The details of sexual escapades, typically of Updike, are a tad sordid. But there are some wonderful quotes such as these:

"In general the churches, visited by me too often on weekdays - when the custodian was moving the communion table like a packing case, and sweeping the chewing-gum wra
Eric Bigler
Apr 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with time to muse over things
I read this years ago and wanted to reread the novel to see if I would enjoy more now.

Updike's word-play is marvelous, but the book runs toward the turgid, with esoteric theological bouts featuring Tillich and Barth (among others), and paragraphs in French untranslated from Pascal.

E.g. "Dear Tillich, great amorous jellyfish, whose faith was a recession of beyonds with these two flecks in one or another pane: a sense of the world as 'theonomous', and a sense of something 'unconditional' within t
Jan 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After striving to reach the pinnacle of bookish prestige (which included a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1959 and a National Book Award for "The Centaur"), Updike opted to indulge his less sober-minded self with this arch and witty first-person narrative from the perspective of a man who shares Humbert-Humbert’s literary, if not sexual, tendencies. Indeed, "A Month of Sundays" nods to Nabokov in its delight in puns, wordplay, mental calisthenics, and self-confessional musings, while still featuring t ...more
Jun 24, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just wasn't my cuppa tea. I was given this book and figured I'd read it, If for no other reason than to read another book from John Updike. I found it to be a plodding slow, unusually boring book. The best parts were the scenes describing the clothing of the early 1970's. I lived through that, so I could elicit a giggle every now and then.
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At times engaging and funny, but at other times dull and forced. There are bits of word-play and turns of phrases that are exactly what I enjoy so much in Updike's "Rabbit" novels, but there were other sections where the epistolary style was just a chore to read. If this had been my first Updike I probably wouldn't be rushing to start a second.
May 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's slyly funny and well...pretty dirty. You don't read many books describing Reverends like this one. Updike really reaches for the ultimate lecherous protestant minister and I think he succeeds. Other reviewers have mentioned this book as a kind of Nabokov homage and I agree.
Nicholas Sangiacomo
I've abandoned three books since I became a serious reader in college: A Confederacy of Dunces, All the Pretty Horses and now this.

This was my first experience with Updike, who as I understand it is something of a controversial figure. From what I've gathered, some say he is one of the best American writers ever, some say he used a fancy prose style to say comparatively little.

I guess I fall in that second camp. I got 20 pages through this book and couldn't bear another page. I make it a point t
Andrew Cripe
It's a fun book, bursting with language that is impossibly beautiful at points. The issue is that the language lacks control and didnt take me anywhere new or special. It's a book centered around moments that aren't actual moments but distractions and, at its worst, filler. It's a short book that is actually way shorter when you realize how much of it is just fucking around. It's a peculiar, flawed almost-gem. If all you're in it for is Updike's masterful writing, you'll be happy--and I was happ ...more
Tamara Dahling
Aug 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not finish the book. Updike writes well but after several chapters, I got really tired of reading about the sex life of the main character. Yawn. Life's too short so on I went to read some Didion.
Amanda Pagano

A Combination of Sexuality and Religion

A Month of Sundays by John Updike
Fawcett Book, 1976
In the midst of the sexual revolution Updike came out with A Month of Sundays which touched highly on the subject of sexuality. Yet, Updike delves into the world of religion even more with Reverend Tom Marshfield as the protagonist. Religion and sexuality collide in the life of Tom when he begins his sexual escapades. While these two subjects are handled with wit and a play on words there is a seriousness
Michael Lisk
Not one of Updike's best. Apparently, one of Paul Westerberg's favorites. Not sure why. Could it be the flashy writing style? The sermons? The sexy stuff (Updike's specialty)? The golf and poker stuff? Who knows?
A Month of Sundays
A novel by John Updike

When A Month of Sundays was released in 1974, it spent 4 months on the New York Times Best Sellers List. With its humours tone and perspective on the intersection of sex and religion (in a Christian context) it must have danced on the edge and even stepped over the line, of 'political correctness', for its time.

Since the release of A Month of Sundays, we've been drowned by a tsunami of sexual indiscretions committed by religious leaders. The fictional act
Look, this is not what you'd call peak-Updike, but there is much to love -- in fact, while I generally love Updike, this was the first of his books that actually made me laugh out loud at all. That said, there is plenty of skippable/skimmable material.
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a mind-bender. A deep, dense novel, 'A Month of Sundays' explores faith, boundaries, blurrings of identity, apocalypse/the unknown: obviously, what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in brain.

But I came to the end still unsure whether I liked it. Not that liking it is actually important, just--I'm used to reading philosophically-inclined novels, but this one was just a bit too smart for me. Lots of obscure religious debate, from equally obscure theologians--a glut of unconnecte
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trying to approach Updike from another way, having been so horrified and uplifted by Rabbit, Run (a really uncomfortable combination) as to vow I'd never read any more Rabbit books, and yet desiring to take another glimpse into the imagination of the man behind them.

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Thanks to Updike for remindng me how completely unqualified I am to read him. Although at least this time it wasn't a complete shock to to my system to read the deeply philosophical and meande
Mark Valentine
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The narrator and protagonist in this memoir-shaped novel in 31 chapters is a Humbert Humbert/Holden Caulfield/Arthur Dimsdale character named Thomas (doubt it!) Marshfield (get it? Dimsdale?) who has a searing intelligence along with a sexual addiction. Confusing the gospel message with some kind of postmodernist philandering, Marshfield--a lapsing Presbyterian minister--has been sent to an out-patient center to golf, drink, and convalesce by writing his narrative, as ordered by a Nurse Ratched- ...more
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John Hoyer Updike was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin ...more
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“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.” 247 likes
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