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

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Product Details
$16.95  $15.76
Lyons Press
Publish Date
5.4 X 7.9 X 0.7 inches | 0.6 pounds

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About the Author
Richard Starks was born in England and raised there and in the United States and Scotland. He has worked as a writer, editor and publisher of newsletters and magazines in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He has written for television, and is the author of six previous books, two co-authored with Miriam Murcutt. Miriam Murcutt is a writer, editor and former marketing executive in the travel and publishing industries. Born in England, she has a M.A. degree in English Literature, and has worked in writing, editing and marketing of magazines, books and other publications in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. She has co-authored two other books, both with Richard Starks. The first book the authors wrote together, Lost in Tibet is a true-life adventure set against the political and cultural background of pre-Chinese Tibet. Published in the United States in both hardback and paperback, it is now in its third printing. Foreign rights have been sold in six other countries. The book is also distributed in the United Kingdom; and the authors have recently sold an option for the film and television rights. Their second book, Along the River that Flows Uphill, is a travel book that uses the story of an Amazon journey the authors made to assess the risks that are inherent in all adventurous travel. RebeccaReads called it wonderfully entertaining and extremely intelligent. Midwest Book Review said it was an unforgettably vivid travelogue. And January Magazine, listing the book among its 'best of 2009 non-fiction', described it as enjoyable and informative, much beyond the travelogue one might expect... creative non-fiction and cracking good fun. The two authors have travelled extensively throughout Europe, South and Central America, the Far East and the Himalayas. Most recently, they spent several weeks traveling in Spain - from Barcelona to Malaga - sleeping inside the walls of many of Spain's ancient monasteries. They have also walked with pilgrims along the Way of St. James across northern Spain from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, and passed one long, wine-fueled summer wandering the length of the French Alps. In addition, they have crossed Venezuela's remote Amazonas state; made a cold and windy circuit of the Torres del Paine in Patagonia; traveled by bus, boat and (reluctantly) horse through Central America; crossed the Tibetan plateau from Lhasa to Katmandu; hiked in the Everest valley; climbed a couple of Himalayan peaks and shucked clams and oysters with the Vietnamese fishermen of Mui Ne. They rank their journey through Spain's ancient monasteries as one of their most rewarding experiences. The authors have a website at And they can be contacted by email at [email protected].
"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." -- Kirkus Reviews"Although there are hundreds of Spanish monasteries where travelers might stay, Starks and Murcutt select seven on their journey from Barcelona to the southern Mediterranean coast, offering readers a captivating tour of these edifices of spirituality, piety, and community--places embodying values so different from the rest of the world. At El Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás, for example, the writers discover porcelain plates that depict a "Chinese Jesus--with sloping eyes, a drooping Fu Manchu mustache, and long thin black hair that he's tied into a topknot." The writers so enjoyed their own experience that they offer advice on choosing a monastery, making a reservation, and getting along with the hosts."-- ForeWord Reviews