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The Monk Downstairs (Monk)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,686 Ratings  ·  257 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
Paperback, 1st edition
Published 2002 by Harper Collins
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Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Farrington’s The Monk Downstairs is sweet novel about two middle-aged people who have lost their ways in life. He (Michael Christopher) has left the monastery after twenty years as a monk, and she (Rebecca Martin) is a graphic artist (who once considered herself an artist and now finds herself making advertising videos of dancing light bulbs) who is also the recently divorced mother of a six year-old daughter (Mary Martha). Mike and Rebecca meet when she rents out the basement “in-law” apart ...more
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-this-year
Fantastic novel! A former monk rents an apartment from a cynical single mom and as their relationship deepens both find hope for the future. Filled with warmth, gentle humour, and intelligent writing, this book was one I didn't want to end. Luckily for me, there is a sequel- The Monk Upstairs!
Oct 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 10, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Bill Glose
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet yet realistic modern romance with a thought-provoking spiritual twist that made for a surprisingly pleasant read. Rebecca and Mike (aka, the titular monk living downstairs) both carry with them plenty of mundane baggage and enough life experience to harbor no romantic illusions, making theirs a refreshingly mature love story. With her wry sense of humor and pragmatic approach to life, Rebecca is especially relatable. For a member of the male persuasion, author Tim Farrington is surprisin ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I raced through this book in one day -- not because it was slight, but because the prose was so graceful and easy to read, the characters so engaging, and the spiritual aspect so deft but satisfying, that I simply could not put it down.

Mike, a monk who has fled his monastery after eighteen(?) years, rents a basement apartment from Rebecca, a divorced single mother disillusioned by life, but fiercely loving toward her daughter and mother. Mike is a contemplative who spent more than a decade in c
Dannielle Insalaco
I thought this was a lovely story.
Nov 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. " my colleagues at McDonald's put it, "My bad."...The ritual respo ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful surprise

I have a soft spot for books about people who are "God haunted" so I was of course drawn to a book about an ex-monk. This book is not so much about religion and it's disillusionment it's about more. It is a love story but also this thoughtful meditation about what it means to live "in the world" and balancing living a life with being contemplative. The tone is meditative and thoughtful. The writing is rich, and descriptive. I read it slowly and savored every well crafted sent
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 'monk' of the title is Michael Christopher, who has just left the monastery after some 20 years and becomes the tenant in the downstairs 'in-law' apartment belonging to Rebecca Martin, divorced mother of 6-year old Mary Martha.

That a romance shall result is predictable from the start. Michael is a little too good to be true: nothing ever seems to anger or even disturb him. Rebecca, on the other hand, is a little too prickly. Mary Martha, though, seems dead-on, and the other supporting chara
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finding-oneself, love
Story of a 38 year old mom who rents her downstairs apartment to a newly released monk, Michael Christopher. Although the love story is predictable, there were plenty of twists of friends and love and her spontaneous daughter, Mary Martha. The daughter's name is a metaphor on the biblical story of contemplation/meditation and a life of service. This theme plays out for several of the characters. I really enjoyed the funny awkward situations the mom and monk find themselves working through. I cou ...more
Kayne Spooner
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
I unabashedly loved The Monk Downstairs.I wasn't quite sure what I was in for, but I think it was something close to a standard level romance novel. It certainly was not.

Mike, a former monk, rents a small apartment from Rebecca, a single mother to six year old Mary Martha (which, side note, is quite the name to saddle a six year old with!) Mike, unused to life on the outside after 20 years in the monastary, takes a job at McDonald's and starts learning what it is to live in the world. He finds h
I give this 4 stars as general fiction, 5 if viewed as romance. The book is very good, and I appreciate authors who add a spiritual element, one with out the fundamentalist holier-than-thou attitude.
The character of Michael Christopher is humble yet brave enough to take a risk that would be extremely difficult for someone concerned with the soul, and anyone who has spent two-thirds of one's career in one place. How many of us could do the same? He didn't have to leave. No one forced him to. In a
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-kindle
While this was a novel of love, I would never call it a "romance" in the literary meaning of the genre. I think having a male author had a lot to do with it and that the author had a personal history of being on a contemplative spiritual retreat in a Buddhist-like place in California as a young man. The novel largely revolved around Michael Christopher's journey into "real life" after spending 20 years in a monastery. He rented an in-laws apartment from Rebecca, a feisty, funny single mother of ...more
Simplistic book with some glaring holes. Rebecca has a six yr old daughter at the beginning of the book in the summer, however in the fall she is not in school but still in day care. It was mentioned she was learning to read.

Also what Mom stays in a hospital for days without going home to her daughter just letting her new boyfriend not only take care of her daughter but going grocery shopping. Where was her Father?

Also her Moms room was suddenly filled with flowers but no mention of her huge gro
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one level, it’s a light read with a fairly predictable romance. The more interesting component is the correspondence between the monk who left the monastery and one who stayed. Without diving into what I would have considered an undesirable discussion of religious beliefs, their dialogue raises interesting big picture philosophical questions. This part of the book was more deeply felt as it was (not surprisingly) fueled by the author’s life experience.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging and unusual novel. Some of the meditations on God and the difference between the active and contemplative life were somewhat beyond me. The meditations were pertinent to the story, although you could probably scan or skip them if they aren't meaningful to you. I liked the characters and of course San Francisco and Marin make for a fine setting.
Virginia S Branham
Life, easy and hard and that stuff in the middle

This was a very well written book with the most unusual character and I found I liked him very much. Monks are not usually the stuff of romance of any kind but this was more about living life, loving God and trying to be the best you can be when you are human. I enjoyed this book and would suggest to my friends.
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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.” 287 likes
“...he smelled like somebody trying to smell like somebody else.” 3 likes
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