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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 apartment turns out to be Michael Christopher, on the lam after twenty years in a monastery and smack dab in the middle of a dark night of the soul, Rebecca begins to suspect that she is not as thoroughly disillusioned as she had thought.

Her daughter, Mary Martha, is delighted with the new arrival, as is Rebecca's mother, Phoebe, a rollicking widow making a new life for herself among the spiritual eccentrics of the coastal town of Bolinas. Even Rebecca's best friend, Bonnie, once a confirmed cynic in matters of the heart, urges Rebecca on. But none of them, Rebecca feels, understands how complicated and dangerous love actually is.

As her unlikely friendship with the ex-monk grows toward something deeper, and Michael wrestles with his despair while adjusting to a second career flipping hamburgers at McDonald's, Rebecca struggles with her own temptation to hope. But it is not until she is brought up short by the realities of life and death that she begins to glimpse the real mystery of love, and the unfathomable depths of faith.

Beautifully written and playfully engaging, this novel. is about one man wrestling with his yearning for a life of contemplation and the need for a life of action in the world. But it's Rebecca's spirit, as well as her relationships with Mary Martha, Phoebe, her irresponsible surfer ex-husband Rory -- and, of course, the monk downstairs -- that makes this story shine.

Published: HarperCollins on Jun 29, 2010
ISBN: 9780062016751
List price: $9.99
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Touching story but definitely written by a man. The heroine is written in as a bit of an overwrought and emotional woman who finds it difficult to deal with life's crises without a good stable man to help her though. The letters in the book created an interesting spiritual dialogue for the hero, but seemed to be there to highlight the mature philosophical thoughts of the man who the more simplistic emotions of the woman.read more
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Kind of a yawner of a monk who rebels against the church and ends up in philosophical conversations and a New Age romance with his landlady.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The story of Rebecca, a divorced mother, and Mike, the recently retired monk who rents her downstairs in-law apartment. Rebecca is an artist who is working for an increasingly corporate graphic arts company, dates a man who diligently attends to their Relationship (always capitalized), and frets over her surfer-dude ex-husband who picks up their daughter smelling of marajuana. Mike, on the other hand, fresh out of the monastery after having "had a fight with my abbot ", has no job skills and no direction. He lands a job at McDonalds, begins tending Rebecca's neglected yard and garden, makes friends with her daughter, and struggles with the real reasons he left monastic life via a correspondence with Brother James, a younger monk.Rebecca's mother, a middle-aged new-ager, is the first to reach out to Mike and draw him into society, at the same time forcing Rebecca to notice him as a man. As they become better acquainted, Rebecca and Mike each begin to see more clearly that what they thought they wanted from life may not be what they need. As events unfold, each is forced into actions they didn't plan to take.While not a big fan of relationship stories, I enjoyed these characters. They are flawed but likable, and progress steadily throughout the book towards a realistic and satisfying relationship. The secondary characters, including the ex-husband, the Relationship guy, the boss, and the abbott, also are nicely handled and likewise grow and change in positive ways. I would recommend this book, especially to anyone who does like this type of relationship story. There is a fairly strong element of spirituality, and much of the conflict swirls around this, but there is no overt "preaching". Likewise, there is an extra-marital sexual relationship, but nothing explicit is described. The edition I read contains group discussion questions in the back.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

Touching story but definitely written by a man. The heroine is written in as a bit of an overwrought and emotional woman who finds it difficult to deal with life's crises without a good stable man to help her though. The letters in the book created an interesting spiritual dialogue for the hero, but seemed to be there to highlight the mature philosophical thoughts of the man who the more simplistic emotions of the woman.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Kind of a yawner of a monk who rebels against the church and ends up in philosophical conversations and a New Age romance with his landlady.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The story of Rebecca, a divorced mother, and Mike, the recently retired monk who rents her downstairs in-law apartment. Rebecca is an artist who is working for an increasingly corporate graphic arts company, dates a man who diligently attends to their Relationship (always capitalized), and frets over her surfer-dude ex-husband who picks up their daughter smelling of marajuana. Mike, on the other hand, fresh out of the monastery after having "had a fight with my abbot ", has no job skills and no direction. He lands a job at McDonalds, begins tending Rebecca's neglected yard and garden, makes friends with her daughter, and struggles with the real reasons he left monastic life via a correspondence with Brother James, a younger monk.Rebecca's mother, a middle-aged new-ager, is the first to reach out to Mike and draw him into society, at the same time forcing Rebecca to notice him as a man. As they become better acquainted, Rebecca and Mike each begin to see more clearly that what they thought they wanted from life may not be what they need. As events unfold, each is forced into actions they didn't plan to take.While not a big fan of relationship stories, I enjoyed these characters. They are flawed but likable, and progress steadily throughout the book towards a realistic and satisfying relationship. The secondary characters, including the ex-husband, the Relationship guy, the boss, and the abbott, also are nicely handled and likewise grow and change in positive ways. I would recommend this book, especially to anyone who does like this type of relationship story. There is a fairly strong element of spirituality, and much of the conflict swirls around this, but there is no overt "preaching". Likewise, there is an extra-marital sexual relationship, but nothing explicit is described. The edition I read contains group discussion questions in the back.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The tagline on the back of the book said "A Love Story with a Twist: What Happens When God Is the Other Woman?" That pretty much sums up this gentle love story. A disillusioned monk leaves his calling to re-enter the world and meets a woman struggling to raise her daughter on her own.I loved the dialogue between the two, and the way that they tentatively eased into a relationship that left both of them vulnerable. I especially enjoyed the letters the monk wrote back to a fellow monk that he'd left behind in the monastery, where you could track his spiritual path as he struggled to find his place in the world after a 20-year hiatius.I understand there is a sequel to this book which I may or may not read as I thought this book was pretty much perfect just on its own.
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This is a book about the midlife crises of two people: a single mother, Rebecca, who rents her basement apartment to the 2nd, a man named Mike who has left the monastery after many years. Though the shape of the story is predictable, the writing and content made it a quick & moving read for me.The book explores the interior landscapes of both characters as they struggle to come to terms with the failures and heartaches of their lives. It speaks to the centrality of love in human experience, and says some things about prayer and God that make sense to me.My favorite quote from this book:I suppose that I pictured an eternal rest by a heavenly poolside, with umbrella drinks served in the unimpeded sunlight. But we do not serve that larger Love by renouncing our particlar loves for some mystical lounge chair; we serve by being faithful to those loves,by suffering them wholly. We are born to love as we are born to die, and between the heartbeats of these two great mystweies 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.
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Divorcee falls for ex-monk! Heartwarming, if you like that sort of thing. Sometimes I do.
Oh! and there's going to be a sequel called The Monk Upstairs. Haha.
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