26 November 2008
MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON by Lauren Groff
Dear Ladies of the Thin Book Club: How are we going to beat ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG?? For the second month in a row we all seemed to have loved our chosen book. Let's see if we can make it three. Our next meeting will be at EK's on 12/16. Thank you JJ for last nite's fabulous homemade cheesecake and accompaniments. Yummm.
This Thanksgiving I am truly grateful for our bookclub. I always look forward to our evenings of books, politics, local gossip, family updates and laughter. Yeah us! Have a very happy Thanksgiving!!
For December we'll be diving into THE MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON by Lauren Groff
Amazon Best of the Month, February 2008: On the very morning Willie Upton slinks home to Templeton, New York (after a calamitous affair with her archeology professor), the 50-foot-long body of a monster floats from the depths of the town's lake. This unsettling coincidence sets the stage for one of the most original debut novels since The Time Traveler’s Wife. With a clue to the mysterious identity of her father in hand, Willie turns her research skills to unearthing the secrets of the town in letters and pictures (which, "reproduced" in the book along with increasingly complete family trees, lend an air of historical authenticity). Lauren Groff's endearingly feisty characters imbue the story with enough intrigue to keep readers up long past bedtime, and reading groups will find much to discuss in its themes of "monsters," both in our towns and our families. --Mari Malcolm
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. At the start of Groff's lyrical debut, 28-year-old Wilhelmina Willie Upton returns to her picturesque hometown of Templeton, N.Y., after a disastrous affair with her graduate school professor during an archeological dig in Alaska. In Templeton, Willie's shocked to find that her once-bohemian mother, Vi, has found religion. Vi also reveals to Willie that her father wasn't a nameless hippie from Vi's commune days, but a man living in Templeton. With only the scantiest of clues from Vi, Willie is determined to untangle the roots of the town's greatest families and discover her father's identity. Brilliantly incorporating accounts from generations of Templetonians—as well as characters borrowed from the works of James Fenimore Cooper, who named an upstate New York town Templeton in The Pioneers—Groff paints a rich picture of Willie's current predicaments and those of her ancestors. Readers will delight in Willie's sharp wit and Groff's creation of an entire world, complete with a lake monster and illegitimate children.
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Based on the works of James Fenimore Cooper--particularly The Pioneers, in which the celebrated novelist reimagines his hometown, Cooperstown, New York, as Templeton--Lauren Groff's debut novel startled critics with its originality and power. Despite its magical realist elements, The Monsters of Templeton is primarily an exploration of the history of Templeton and its monsters of the decidedly human variety. Willie is an engaging and likable character, and the plot is driven forward by the imaginative use of invented source documents and vintage photos culled by Groff from antique stores, flea markets, and even eBay. The only complaint? A few too many voices and sources. Compared to Carol Shields, only more whimsical and inventive. (San Francisco Chronicle), Groff is a promising new writer who has penned an innovative, entertaining first novel.
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A fantastically fun read, a kind of wild pastiche that is part historical novel and part mystery, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in for good measure."
"The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass."
So begins The Monsters of Templeton, a novel spanning two centuries: part a contemporary story of a girl's search for her father, part historical novel, and part ghost story, this spellbinding novel is at its core a tale of how one town holds the secrets of a family.
In the wake of a wildly disastrous affair with her married archaeology professor, Willie Upton arrives on the doorstep of her ancestral home in Templeton, New York, where her hippie-turned-born-again-Baptist mom, Vi, still lives. Willie expects to be able to hide in the place that has been home to her family for generations, but the monster's death changes the fabric of the quiet, picture-perfect town her ancestors founded. Even further, Willie learns that the story her mother had always told her about her father has all been a lie: he wasn't the random man from a free-love commune that Vi had led her to imagine, but someone else entirely. Someone from this very town.
As Willie puts her archaeological skills to work digging for the truth about her lineage, she discovers that the secrets of her family run deep. Through letters, editorials, and journal entries, the dead rise up to tell their sides of the story as dark mysteries come to light, past and present blur, old stories are finally put to rest, and the shocking truth about more than one monster is revealed.