This week, we’ve started reading The Monk by Matthew Lewis – not Neville Longbottom – different guy, same name. Here’s a rundown of the first section:
The book opens in Spain with Antonia and her aunt (I forget her aunt’s name) in church to hear a sermon by a guy who is apparently amazing. However, Antonia is the only person who actually cares about the sermon. Everyone else is there to socialize and/or pick up a boyfriend/girlfriend. Kind of hypocritical if you ask me. Not even Antonia’s aunt cares about the sermon. In fact, she insists that Antonia take off her veil so that people can see her face. When she doesn’t comply, Lorenzo – who has been trying to flirt with her the who time – rips it off of her, somewhat to his disappointment. Based on the parts of her that he could see, he was expecting a supermodel. Nope, sorry, she’s just plain. Not ugly, but not strikingly beautiful either.
The second part – and seemingly overwhelming majority – of the section focuses on Ambrosio, the monk who was givinig the sermon. At first, he seems like a pretty decent guy, a character to root for. Not so much. To the outsider, he appears to be the holiest of the holy – never breaking his vows or wavering from the principles of Catholicism. But he has a weakness – the Novice Rosario. They have a strong bond, a borderline same sex relationship. But when the truth comes out, it gets even more complicated. It turns out Rosario is actually a woman named Matilda, who disguised herself as a man in order to get into the monastery and close to Ambrosio because she loved him.
At first, Ambrosio tells her to leave, because she would only be a temptation for him. But he’s not sure he wants her to leave, because 1) they had such a strong bond to begin with, and 2) the picture of the Virgin Mary he’s been obsessed with is actually Matilda’s portrait, so he’s already in love with her.
If that’s not a crazy plot twist, I don’t know what is.