A Month of Sundays

A Month of Sundays

by John Updike

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Overview

In this antic riff on Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, the Reverend Tom Marshfield, a latter-day Arthur Dimmesdale, is sent west from his Midwestern parish in sexual disgrace. At a desert retreat dedicated to rest, recreation, and spiritual renewal, this fortyish serial fornicator is required to keep a journal whose thirty-one weekly entries constitute the book you now hold in your hand. In his wonderfully overwrought style he lays bare his soul and his past—his marriage to the daughter of his ethics professor, his affair with his organist, his antipathetic conversations with his senile father and his bisexual curate, his golf scores, his poker hands, his Biblical exegeses, and his smoldering desire for the directress of the retreat, the impregnable Ms. Prynne. A testament for our times.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449912201
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/1996
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.

Date of Birth:

March 18, 1932

Date of Death:

January 27, 2009

Place of Birth:

Shillington, Pennsylvania

Place of Death:

Beverly Farms, MA

Education:

A.B. in English, Harvard University, 1954; also studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England

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Excerpted from "A Month of Sundays"
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Copyright © 1996 John Updike.
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A Month of Sundays 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
HippieLunatic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The concept is brilliant and one I was excited to read: a reverend who is addicted to sexual encounters with everyone but his wife. The vocabulary was brilliant: too much so.The pacing was brilliant: it blinded me at times with changes.Too much brilliance can sometimes be a challenge.
carka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I selected this for my "U" choice for A-to-Z Authors group and had started (but paused) reading it before John Updike died. Once he died, I forced myself to keep reading this book just so I could check it off my list. I don't think the description did an adequate job of describing what the book would actually be about, and I found it hard to follow. Perhaps that's because Updike's vocabulary is so extensive...I probably should have read it along with a dictionary. There were some chapters that captivated me -- particularly the description of being in the desert. Since I live in Arizona and have resisted the desert for most of my life, this part touched me. It reminded me of reading Abbey's Desert Solitaire in college, after a years-long debate with a high school friend over whether the desert can be peaceful. I conceded the argument after reading Abbey's book, and Updike's section on desert wonders confirms that decision.
AlanWPowers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Updike's two best books, according to the author, or three, according to yours truly.The other favorite son of Updike tells his teacher father's story in The Centaur. This one chooses as protagonist that icon of American culture--but not of American lit--the protestant preacher. Updike is no slouch, to use the theological term for it. He has done his theological homework, fills his book with ironies of free will and predetermination, democracy and authority, sexual ennui and community existentialism. As the Centaur may be the best American novel on education, this may be the best on religion,though Bellow has a few rivals, from Mr Sammler to Ravelstein and the Dean's December on educationparticularly.
Old_Dog More than 1 year ago
Despite the fact that this book was written over 35 years ago, it remains both timely and relevant. Light hearted, yet thought provoking, this is a wonderful treatment of middle-aged men and their conflicts coming to terms with personal issues of religious faith and sexuality. Updike at his best!
Toros More than 1 year ago
Reverend Tom Marshfield has gone astray. Far astray. Or he has discovered his true self. Either way, his life has become inextricably bound to his barely restrainable sexual desires. Limited not be his own nearly nonexistent faith, but instead by the piety of the woman he pursues. I can't believe I am actually using such a word to describe a novel, but John Updike's A Month of Sundays is quite juicy. By which I am not referring to banal descriptions of carnality. What is most enticing about this tale is the exploration of a very carnal man's journey between the faith of others and his own desires. Reminiscent of Philip Roth, I thought, from whose works I derive great, sometimes guilty, pleasures.
GeorgeEllington More than 1 year ago
Reverend Tom Marshfield has gone astray. Far astray. Or he has discovered his true self. Either way, his life has become inextricably bound to his barely restrainable sexual desires. Limited not be his own nearly nonexistent faith, but instead by the piety of the woman he pursues. I can't believe I am actually using such a word to describe a novel, but John Updike's A Month of Sundays is quite juicy. By which I am not referring to banal descriptions of carnality. What is most enticing about this tale is the exploration of a very carnal man's journey between the faith of others and his own desires. Reminiscent of Philip Roth, I thought, from whose works I derive great, sometimes guilty, pleasures.
BaileyHobson More than 1 year ago
This book is hilarious in the best way, with moments of pathos as well as the sublime. A first person account. Thoroughly enjoyed the "pastor at rehab" setting, with many laugh out loud passages together with others that make one pause to ponder the human condition. The central character is trying hard to be honest, with himself and the God he understands. Recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You will want to read John Updike's A Month of Sundays for reasons that will occur to you beginning on page one. It was written just as feminism was getting a toe-hold on America's north face and from that perspective, there is much to recommend it. It is a snapshot of the early seventies and the implosion of social and religious standards while the country's sexuality exploded in Thomas Marshfield's face. Tom Marshfield is a 'suburban Christian minister,' denomination and suburb unlisted. Tom is a minister's son and is married to Jane Chillingworth, his college professor's daughter. As he steps into his fifth decade at age 41, Tom and his Bach-loving organist begin their mutual seduction (pay no attention to the blurbs, this is as much Alicia Crick's idea as it is Tom's), but he is unable to overcome the inertia of a vaguely unsatisfying marriage and Alicia begins an affair with Tom's curate, Ned Bork. The story is presented in a series of journal entries, one for each day of Tom's desert exile while he contemplates the meaning of . . ., well, you need to set aside an afternoon and read this too real comedy.