The latest New Age soap opera from Farrington (Blues for Hannah, 1998, etc.) follows the perils and joys of a cloistered monk who moves to San Francisco.
Michael Christopher, the erstwhile Brother Jerome, has a lot of adjusting to do. For more than 20 years he was a monk of Our Lady of Bethany monastery in Mendocino County, California, working in the abbey’s vineyards and participating in the daily round of prayer, meditation, and silence. He had no trouble with the solitary life—in fact, he wanted more of it, feeling himself increasingly drawn to contemplation. Unfortunately his abbot disagreed, maintaining that he needed to undertake more active work in the vineyard and the abbey parish. So Mike finally washed his hands of the place and left, without any clear idea of what he was leaving for. He moved to San Francisco and rented a small apartment from Rebecca Martin, divorced mother of a six-year-old girl. Rebecca has her hands plenty full: She has a rambunctious daughter to look after, a genial but feckless ex-husband now facing jail time for his third drug bust, a geeky boyfriend who wants to marry her, an aggravating career as a graphic designer that allows her no time to paint, and a busybody mother who’s just had a stroke. She could, in other words, use some simplicity in her life. Mike, who has never had a bank account before and happily takes a job at McDonald’s, appeals to her in a strange way. He’s good with her kid, gets along with everybody, actually listens to what she says, and is pretty damned cute in his severe-haircut way. Mike feels the attraction as well. Can two middle-aged losers take on the world together? With faith, of course, you can move mountains.
Sappy, sentimental, and painfully earnest: the sort of silliness that will appeal to anyone who has ever wept over Joseph Campbell or Enya.