New Year’s Eve Party–with Monks

Every December on the blog I feature Xmas scenes and books… and this will continue into January.

If you use Pinterest you can see some of the beautiful seasonal pictures on this page, and you can find (endless!) more Xmas books via the labels at the bottom of the page.

Today a rather particular and very funny NY Eve party

Brothers Keepers by Donald E Westlake

published 1975

NYear Monks party

[The brothers of the Crispinite Order are trying to save their New York monastery: in pursuit of this, they end up at the New Year party of the landlord, an Irish businessman who lives on Long Island]

Brother Quillon was deep in conversation with a pair of beaming buxom maidens and Brother Leo was disapprovingly browsing among the sets of Dickens.

Brother Flavian [was] in haranguing dialogue with half a dozen college age youths. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves tremendously. Beyond them, Brothers Clarence and Dexter, cocktails in hand, were in civilised discourse with several guests.

Brother Peregrine was fox-trotting to How Much is that Doggy in the window? With a suspiciously-blonde blonde, while Brother Eli was managing to do the monkey to the same music with a girl who looked like all folksingers.

[Business concluded...]

It was not at all easy to turn 15 monks and Mr Schumacher from partygoers into  Travelers again. They were all of them happy right where they were... the brown robes began at last to separate themselves from the party... The Brothers trailed out of the house, one at a time...

NYear Monks party 2

commentary: I did a post on this book in April– it was one of my joys of the year, and all credit to Tracy of Bitter Tea and Mystery who introduced me to it. It is a great book for many reasons, and one of them is that it is very very funny. The Monks at the NY party are a stroke of genius, and why on earth has no-one ever made a film or TV series just to show this scene?

Other delights include various comments on people’s names – an ‘Alfred’ must be a man of no gumption or he’d be Al or Fred. Is it Charley or Charlie? – it makes a difference. Talking of which, I was sorry that the character with the excellent name of Ada Louise Huxtable made only a glancing appearance: but she turns out to have been a real person, architecture critic of the New York Times.

And Brother Benedict, our narrator, finds himself in some exquisite dilemmas: Westlake works it out really well.

Tracy’s description of the plot is useful:
Brother Benedict is a member of the Crispinite order, numbering only 16 monks, which has occupied a building in midtown Manhattan, built by the original monks on leased land.  Brother Benedict discovers in the newspaper that the building that they are housed in will be demolished along with the rest of the block they live on. This order has a prohibition against travel unless absolutely necessary; thus the brothers are disturbed that they will have to leave the home they love. They believe that they have a legal right to stay, based on their lease, but the lease is missing. This is highly suspicious. They search for ways to prevent the demolition of the block, but they are thwarted everywhere they turn.
And you can read more about the book at my earlier post.

It is very hard to find any pictures of modern-day monks, let alone of brothers at a party, and I used up some good pictures on the previous entry.

The top picture above is from a venue in Norway – Utstein, a mediaeval monastery where you can hold a social event: the monks will do a barbecue for your party or wedding. Sadly it turns out it is no longer an actual monastery, but a monastery museum, and so I guess the monks are actors or students…

The other picture is ‘a sculpture of a Monk from Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, New York’, and the photo is by Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada.


  1. I really like Westlake's use of wit, Moira, so I'm not surprised that you found this one to be really funny. Just the mental picture of the monks at the party is funny, let alone anything else. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wish you and those you love all the best for 2019. Happy New Year!

    1. He is so funny, and clever - having read some of his more hard-boiled books I was amazed by his quiet, thoughtful wit.

  2. Oh I must read this, Moira. Fox-trotting monks, what could be better . . . Happy New Year, my dear friend.

    1. Happy New Year to you Chrissie, and yes, I think you will enjoy this one. It is unusual.

  3. Moira: Let me help with photos of contemporary monks, including their participation in a Christmas party. Here is a link to St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan -

    I spent 3 years of high school and 1st year university at St. Peter's College which has been operated by this Benedictine monastery for almost 100 years. They no longer have a high school. They continue as a junior college.

    The website has lots of photos of the monks. It is a beautiful serene place with a strong connection to writers. The College offers a diploma in creative writing for students willing to commit to extra writing beyond the usual academic classes. Each summer several Canadian writers spend time at the monastery working on their writing.

    1. Bill, thanks so much for sharing that - the website is marvellous, and I loved the picture of the monks. It sounds as though you have a great affection for it, which is such a good thing.

  4. Thanks for the shout out. I had entirely forgotten that the party was a New Year celebration. I can see I need to re-read this book, and read more of the humorous books by Westlake.

    1. I want to find more by him - as I say above, some of his other books were quite harsh, and not particularly funny. This one was a delight.

  5. A bit more agreeable with me. I can't remember what I said when you posted on it before, but I'm a sucker for picking up Westlake books when I'm out and I spot them. I think this has eluded me thus far.

    1. It will turn up! Westlake is definitely where our tastes collide I think.


Post a Comment