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 an adult book (Harry Potter, Twilight – those are one night books).
Farrington’s book is thoughtfully and carefully written. In brief, it’s the story of a single mother (and yes, he does write the perspective of a woman very thoughtfully -I should know) whose downstairs tenant is a monk who has just left the monastery. The novel details their building relationship, his coming to terms with life outside of the cloister (wisely told through a series of letters to another monk), and her acceptance of her life as it is now – grief and all. I won’t give you must more of a synopsis than that because I don’t want to spoil it for you – but that’s the gist.
I really liked Farrington’s work because it is, first of all, a fairly normal story. There are no car chases or gun fights, no wild or kinky encounters, no throw it all to the wind decisions. Instead, it’s the story of real people in a real place (San Francisco – I liked that, too, because I could see all the places they went – his description of the sea beyond Tamalpais brought me to tears of longing), and it’s just simply about people trying to live life the best they can. I appreciate that.
Also, there’s a great study in the contemplative life here – is it better to a person of prayer or a person of action? To be Mary or Martha? This is a question I struggle with often, and I was glad to see Farrington’s monk wrestle with that angel, too. In fact, as I was reading, I had this thought – not profound and very yogic but still – perhaps all we can do is what we know to be needed at the moment. Action when called for; prayer when space is beckoning.
All in all, I loved this book, really, and I would like to share it with you guys. So, if you’re interested in reading it, I will send you my very own copy. Simply leave a comment here and give me a sentence about why you’d like to read it. If you have a blog, write about the giveaway, and leave the link in the comments to this post, I”ll give you a double-entry. I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday, Nov 12th and send the book off. Good luck.
P.S. If you’ve reviewed this book, please let me know, and I”ll link to yours here.