Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Monk Upstairs: A Novel” as Want to Read:
The Monk Upstairs: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Monk Upstairs: A Novel (Monk)

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  381 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
A fun, lively novel
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by HarperOne (first published May 1st 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Monk Upstairs, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Monk Upstairs

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nov 04, 2007 Willow rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 27, 2013 Harry Allagree rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 15, 2008 Claire rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 23, 2007 Eileen rated it it was amazing
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.
Judy Churchill
Apr 08, 2017 Judy Churchill rated it really liked it
This is a book about love and acceptance. It is a story about life, death and renewal. It is a story of self discovery. It is beautifully framed in the wonder of the scriptures. When the monk and Rebecca marry, they create a unit of love and trust and quiet. As Rebecca's mother Phoebe dies, new life begins with a pregnancy for Becca and Mike. This is so beautifully written - it is a gracious tribute to life.
Dec 06, 2008 Christa rated it it was amazing
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
Amy L
Aug 01, 2012 Amy L rated it liked it
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
Jennifer (JC-S)
Sep 15, 2007 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarybooks
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.
Jul 18, 2014 Mom2nine rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2011 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: about-usa-canada
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.
Mar 23, 2017 Margaret rated it it was amazing
This is the second book in a series of three. It is even better than the first book, " The Monk Downstairs". The story is obviously unfinished at the end of the book ( I won't give anything away, but there are some unfinished stories...) and by now I have come to love all the characters. My library doesn't have book# 3, "The Lazarus Kid", so I ordered it online.
Jim Krotzman
Mar 01, 2017 Jim Krotzman rated it it was amazing
The Monk Upstairs is the sequel to The Monk Downstairs. All the main characters are back with Rebecca and Mike as the main characters. Character and the theme of religion are most important in the novel. Mike is a saint in the making, patient, tender, unfailingly kind & unselfish, but according to the world useless. Phoebe embodied courage & natural dignity; her humor & her faith touched everyone every day. Rebecca is made better by Mike, but she has mellowed and treats her ex-husban ...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 ...more
Kristen Heitzmann
Feb 27, 2017 Kristen Heitzmann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-love
Exquisite. This novel and the precursor The Monk Downstairs were two of the most beautiful, depictions of the value, the dignity, and sometimes the foolishness, but ultimately the joy of life, the struggle to comprehend the profound, and the realization that one merely needs to accept, to embrace the Divine Love that is God.
Jeff Zell
Jan 26, 2017 Jeff Zell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
This story stands by itself but it begins where The Monk Downstairs leaves off. Mike, the former monk of twenty years who was the renter downstairs in the mother-in-law apartment is now living upstairs with Rebecca. Rebecca’s mother Phoebe is now downstairs. The recovery from her stroke leaves her independent but needing a watchful eye and helping hand. Rebecca wants her close.

The story begins at Mike’s old monastery. Rebecca finally consented to marriage with Mike. The guests are seated in the
Aug 01, 2016 Jocelyn rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
Three and a half star. It would be a hard feat to sustain the experience of the first novel, The Monk Downstairs, into the sequel. I rated the first five stars, loved it. I found the sequel uneven, slow start, but still there is much food for thought here, on the messiness of everyday life, the balancing act between loving, earning a living, being honest an open to all that life may throw at us. I really like monk Mike's take on religion. His intuitive common sense when it comes to teaching his ...more
Mary Helene
Jun 09, 2007 Mary Helene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Jun 16, 2007 Salimah rated it it was ok
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
Feb 15, 2014 Leola rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 26, 2016 Peggy rated it it was amazing
A lovely (and somewhat predictable) sequel to The Monk Downstairs.
The predictability didn't alter my affection for this book and its characters one iota.
There is even more theology and metaphysical philosophy in this book than in the previous one.
The over-arching message is Be Kind.
A beautiful book of ordinary people growing toward each other and within themselves.
There is a meditation on Death running throughout this book that is extremely poignant...we could all learn much.
Deborah Joyner
Aug 20, 2007 Deborah Joyner rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 17, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it
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....
May 31, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 13, 2009 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: love-stories
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.
Jul 01, 2007 Marcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Jul 13, 2003 Librarirun rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 10, 2008 Lynn rated it it was ok
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
Sep 18, 2007 LeAnn Hodges rated it really liked it
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.
Patty Garland
Nov 24, 2011 Patty Garland rated it really liked it
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Too Rich for a Bride (The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek, #2)
  • The Chocolate Cake Sutra: Ingredients for a Sweet Life
  • The Devil's Delilah (Regency Noblemen, #2)
  • A Heart as Wide as the World: Stories on the Path of Lovingkindness
  • The Book of Fred
  • If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus
  • The View from Garden City
  • Still Life With Elephant
  • Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle (Miss Julia #12)
  • Mrs. Malory and a Death in the Family
  • The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice
  • Save Your Own
  • Fairy Tale
  • Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God
  • Into a Black Sun: Vietnam, 1964-1965
  • In A Good Light
  • Inne Rozkosze
  • Dance, Gladys, Dance

Other Books in the Series

Monk (2 books)
  • The Monk Downstairs

Share This Book

“She said, "Well, that's right, she's going to heaven very soon. And now it's time for us to say good-bye to her and tell her how much we love her."

Mary martha nodded and looked at the needlepoint in her hands.

"Will her brain still be hurt, in heaven?" she asked.

[Rebecca]....said, "Do you remember that time at the beach, when you went into the water with Gran-Gran and the waves were too big and she lifted you up over them? And you two were laughing so much and you said she was the coolest grandmother in the world?"

Mary Martha smiled. "Yes"

"That is how she will be in heaven," Rebecca said.”
“ 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. ” 2 likes
More quotes…