Book Review: Good Night and God Bless


REVIEW: GOOD NIGHT AND GOD BLESS: A guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe

 

**** BOOK GIVEAWAY****

Author Trish Clark has graciously provided a copy of Good Night and God Bless to be given away to one of our readers! Please leave a comment to be entered to win.

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The further I delved into Trish Clark’s beautifully researched and presented travel book Good Night and God Bless I kept thinking to myself, “Why wasn’t this book available when I visited Austria, Italy and in the ‘old days’, Czechoslovakia." Then again, as Trish point’s out in relation to the “old days”, certainly in what is now the Czech Republic, the military were probably in possession of a few monasteries at that time! For although many of the monasteries and nunneries have been ministering food and accommodation for travellers right back to the “really old days”, it seems that widespread notice of the availability of hospitality in places of pilgrimage and spirituality is still a somewhat relatively recent phenomenon, even at a time when it seems everyone is travelling. And in bringing our attention to the availability of these unique establishments, it seems as though Trish is a really a pioneering “town crier” with an almost unlimited canvas in terms of the places where the Catholic faith went forth and multiplied its adherents. Expect more books on other countries.

 

good night and god bless

 

What surprised and delighted me, especially in relation to the possibilities of lodgement in places like Vienna, Prague and Rome, was the availability of relatively low cost accommodation and wholesome fare, within a bell ring of the centres of these wonderful cities. Now before you pack the girlfriend and her La Perla, or prepare to trip the light fantastic, there is a note of caution for the words simple, small, modest, quiet, rustically furnished, shared bathroom, and reasonably priced, crop up frequently in the book. And some cater only for a single sex, and that isn’t a comment on frequency! So, we are not talking Hilton or Ritz Carlton here, people. Yet, at the same time there are wonderfully descriptive passages of a host of Three Star hotel-type establishments which are always clean, offer en-suite facilities, comfortable lounges, home cooked meals, and the availability of wine and beer, often produced by the very monks and nuns who often work and walk among you, as you sit down to a meal with items right from their garden. And don’t forget, those Benedictine monks knew a thing or two about liquor, and their secrets have been passed on to their current day brethren. A monastery stay is therefore likely to be cheap and cheerful, fairly quiet with plentiful healthy food and beverages, and if you wish a dose of ‘good ole religion’ thrown in for free. And you are always surrounded by history, works of art and sculptures of renown, while virtually right outside the door are the sites that every tourist has come to see, and has probably had to commute some distance, or paid four and five star hotel prices.

I came to Good Night and God Bless with a measure of trepidation, as though it would be all about a whole lot of Father McKenzies darning their socks in the night when nobody was there, and their Eleanor Rigbys (forgive me Beatles!), but I was totally wrong. It has a most serene and peaceful ‘feel’ to it, an attractive cover and design, and indeed on the dust-jacket, some commentators have referred to it as a traveller’s Bible. The tone of the work is set in the Forward and it is very quickly clear that Trish Clark ‘knows her religious stuff’. The research and knowledge appears meticulous and although all the sections are brief, they are full of interest and have revealing insights and snippets. The writing is in a most engaging and chatty style, with a brief but adequate city or regional introductions, followed by a detailed description of each facility, and an approximation of cost. There are also a few references to where there is access for the disabled, which, unfortunately, doesn’t feature in enough travel guides. There are some wonderful photographs and the maps are adequate for getting one’s bearings.

 

good night and god bless

 

Following the description of places to stay, there is a very handy ‘tour d’horizon’  of surrounding attractions which anyone staying at the hotel or facility might also consider exploring, followed by a section with some recommended eating establishments, together with an indication of price. There are welcome suggestions for outdoor pursuits, skiing facilities or walking and hiking trails, as well as good shopping hints, and where there are bargains to be found in markets or outlet stores. As a number of monasteries were also renown for being sited near curative springs and waters, there is also a good range of information on spas and beauty and health facilities which, in a number of cases, are now run as commercial ventures by the church. There is, again, a lot of helpful information including a warning about some spa establishments where you may be affronted by nudies!

If there is one, albeit minor quibble that I have with the book is that each ‘country section’ is organized in terms of geographic region and is then followed by a section on “Spiritual retreats” and then a further section on “Pilgrimages”. In this way we ‘completed Vienna’ and its host of attractions, only to return there later under a different aegis, and find that there were further attractions and eateries. I suppose that I am all for consolidation, but that is a purely personal whim. And let’s face it, it is always a delight in coming back to Vienna, or Prague or Rome so alas, if I am being a little pedantic, there are plenty of places in this book where this pedant can be made to serve time in silent contemplation!

 

good night and god bless

 

I found it to be a book choc-a-block full of interesting little facts and not just because there are lots of little references to ‘chocolate stops’ and places for the sweet of tooth. Did you know, for example, that the Austrian Emperor and Empress’ hearts and intestines were interred separately from them? Or that in Italy monks have a Monk Shop which sells bubble bath potions and Trappist chocolate bars or that there is a place that sells gorgonzola ice-cream? There are excellent passages on the paths of the pilgrims, should you wish to follow in their steps, and equipped with this book, you too can now find the restaurant where Graham Greene had his pasta or stay in the very place where they filmed Room With A View. There is a pithy little section on how to survive in Rome and the helpful suggestion to look for places where priests eat for the fare is likely to be good, and cheap. Mind you, well you might seek a seat at the ritzy Antica Pesa restaurant on the basis that a priest is eating there only to overhear owner Luigi say “Father, this is on the house”!

Good Night and God Bless is indeed a travel bible, compact enough for your carry-on or backpack, a most helpful reference book and guide which is easy to read, and comes with great dollops of very worthwhile information. We might previously have thought “Nun of that for me” but Trish Clark has opened up a whole new travel genre with her work and her religious pursuit of new travel options is most worthy of acclaim.

For more information, please see:
http://www.goodnightandgodbless.com/


AND! We've interviewed the author, Trish Clark, about Good Night and God Bless. It was an illuminating interview!

 

 

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Author Trish Clark has generously donated one copy of Good Night and God Bless, to be awarded to one randomly chosen commenter on this article.  To comment, you must be a member of Wandering Educators (free), and reside in the U.S.. The contest will run from August 4th, 2009, until 11:59pm, August 10th, 2009. Any comments left on the article within that time are eligible for the drawing.

Winfred Peppinck is the Wandering Freditor Editor for Wandering Educators.

Comments (5)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    12 years 1 month ago

    thanks, fred, for such a great review! this is an excellent book.

     

    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

  • skyeblue

    12 years 1 month ago

    This review rocks! What a unique travel guide!

    Skye Wentworth, Book Publicist

    Newburyport, MA

    USA

    http://www.skyewentworth.org

  • Carol Voigts

    12 years 1 month ago

    Well, I have some friends who are definitely getting this book for their birthday.  It sounds fascinating and how I wish I was a bit more footloose and fancy free to just take off. 

    Carol Voigts --RETIRED!!!

  • Frank Miller

    12 years 1 month ago

    What an intriguing book review.  After reading it I want to know more.  Thank you!

  • Lois Henderson

    12 years 1 week ago

    The index to this guide to convents, monasteries, open houses and spiritual retreats of Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy gives one but the barest outline of the wealth of contents of Good Night & God Bless. Apart from answering the usual questions of where, what and how much, a sense of cultural and historical awareness permeates the text. Want to know where Empress Elizabeth was assassinated, where to seek out the most awe-inspiring classical music or liveliest disco, or where to buy locally grown organic fruit and herbal teas?  Look no further than Good Night & God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe.

     

    A neat pocket guide to the best alternative tourism routes through three major European countries, this logically structured work is a soothing panacea to the overwhelming plethora of travel books that pulsate off the shelves in ever increasing numbers. Presenting her work in pleasingly demarcated paragraphs, Trish Clark describes the accommodation, ranging from the relatively simple to the discretely luxurious, provided by religious houses that have found the need to become financially viable amid the increasing commercialism of the 21st century.

     

    A brief introduction to each country and region, including a map and a few color photographs of the most distinctive sites, is followed by a few pages on each of the leading open houses. Trish describes exactly what a tourist is likely to experience while staying there. Venturing beyond a brief overview of the services and specialties provided, she explores the surroundings of each open house in turn, suggesting which places of interest, food and drink and sporting and cultural events the prospective traveler might most enjoy.

     

    For those of a more contemplative frame of mind, Trish describes the spiritual retreats and pilgrimages that can be undertaken in Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic. She also provides the contact details for additional accommodation, so that the array of potentially spiritually uplifting accommodation is reasonably extensive.

     

    Good Night & God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe is the ideal guide for those seeking more than the conventional tourist fare – make the most of your next trip to Europe by contemplating the contemplative and return home refreshed and spiritually restored. Volume Two of Good Night & God Bless, which covers the accommodation provided in the religious houses of France, Ireland and the United Kingdom, is due out in January 2010. Personally, I can’t wait!     

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