The Monk Upstairs


The second novel in the series by Tim Farrington has most of the same shortcomings and virtues of the first. First tick off the transgressions--marriage, divorce, and remarriage without benefit of divorce, a certain haziness with regard to Rebecca and religion, use of contraception--not by the nominally Catholic Rebecca, but by Mike, the former Monk himself.

But the story is lovely if incomplete and oddly shredded around the edges. There are many events with no resolution, many mentions of things that seem to have no focus or purpose. For example, Phoebe, who has the ability to see only some people clearly sees Mike the Monk and Rory the Stoned Surfer very clearly, but almost no one else. What is the meaning of the equivalence in her vision? Why is the kitchen torn up in the first chapter, mentioned throughout the book, but never brought to repair? Why does Mike get so hung up on cremation, but continue to recite psalms in some version that is either the Douay Rheims or a poor imitation?

While I enjoyed both books, I have many reservations about both of them. Some of the focus on prayer is sharp and interesting--revealing. But most of the story is a froth of chaos, The author's purpose is not to present Catholic teaching, and yet in a book about a former monk, one would hope for a little more clarity on precisely what the Church teaches--there is none. The Author freely mixes archaic versions of scripture with contraception--lighting votive candles with marriage without benefit of annulment.

As much as I enjoyed some aspects of these stories, I can't recommend them. They are however an inspiration in that true prayer can inform a book and become even the matter of a book without the book becoming dull and pedantic. And perhaps that was Mr. Farrington's purpose--to lure people into a life of prayer; however, the lure is itself tainted--tainted to the point where the goal itself probably cannot be achieved.

But then, I shouldn't allow opinions on the matter of doctrinal correctness to interfere with my vision of the author. Shouldn't, but for good or ill, I'm afraid I do, and so my lack of endorsement here.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 5, 2007 6:56 AM.

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