A Room with a Pew: Sleeping Our Way Through Spain's Ancient Monasteries
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A Room with a Pew: Sleeping Our Way Through Spain's Ancient Monasteries

by Richard Starks, Miriam Murcutt
     
 

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          One recent summer, Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt traveled through Spain – from Barcelona in the north to Malaga on the southern Mediterranean coast – staying exclusively in ancient monasteries. As they quickly discovered, these are intriguing places in which to stay.  They are ripe with

Overview

          One recent summer, Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt traveled through Spain – from Barcelona in the north to Malaga on the southern Mediterranean coast – staying exclusively in ancient monasteries. As they quickly discovered, these are intriguing places in which to stay.  They are ripe with history, art and culture (living museums); peopled by a dying breed of monks and nuns (last chance to see); rarely visited (so few tourists); and open to anyone who cares to stop by (you don’t have to be religious, although it doesn’t hurt if you are). They are also inexpensive (much of the time); eager for customers (most of the time); and always hospitable (in keeping with the Rule of St. Benedict).

          This account of the authors' journey will show you what it is like to turn your back on tourist Spain, to leave behind the hotels, pensions and up-market paradors and immerse yourself in the cowled world of Spain’s many and varied ancient monasteries. This is not a guide book, but it does include enough information for you to plan a similar journey of your own. The tone is amusing, sometimes irreverent, but always respectful and entertaining.  

Monasteries visited:  El Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Vallbona ** El Monasterio de la Virgen de Monlora ** Monasterio de San Salvador de Leyre ** El Real Monasterio de Santo Tomas, Avila ** El Monasterio de la Purisima Concepcion y San Jose , El Toboso ** El Monasterio de la Santa Maria de las Escalonias ** Convento de la Purisima Concepcion (Santa Maria) Marchena 

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In their latest dispatches from abroad, Starks and Murcutt (Along the River that Flows Uphill: From the Orinoco to the Amazon, 2009, etc.) take readers on a pilgrimage to seven monasteries across Spain. The authors' use of immersion journalism provides unique insight into the inner sanctum of the monasteries, as they describe glimpses of a variety of treasures, including relics, artifacts and art. Better still is their shared insight into the psychology behind a life dedicated to God. Upon entering one monastery's refectory, the writers wondered, "Could I eat here? Three times a day in silence? With the same group of people? For fifty years or more?" These questions, while rhetorical for the authors, undoubtedly had real-world ramifications for those who decided to engage in the monastic life. Yet when one monk notes the dearth of new recruits, readers may wonder if the answers to the aforementioned questions have often been a negative, if the monastic life is an endangered species soon to be another casualty of the modern world. While the book begins as a grand parade across Spain, it soon takes on characteristics of a forced march in which the primary difference among the monasteries are the people within their walls. Early on, Starks and Murcutt describe one monastery as "quiet and peaceful with an unhurried pace"--a good description for this book. There is little agency here, and while the authors faithfully report their trip, faith itself plays a minor role. Lighthearted and occasionally humorous, but not fully engaging.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780762788811
Publisher:
Lyons Press, The
Publication date:
09/04/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
835 KB

Meet the Author

Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt are writers and editors who have authored several books, including Lost in Tibet and Along the River that Flows Uphill. Worldwide travelers, they rank their journey through Spain’s ancient monasteries as one of their most rewarding experiences. They live in Boulder, Colorado. Visit them at starksmurcutt.com. 

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