Gold Gato, July 29, 2013 (view all comments by Gold Gato)
This was a strange duck of a read. Using the factual history of the real Cooperstown in New York, Lauren Groff weaves a tale of personal ghosts, lonely lake monsters, and hippie fantasies to bring an imaginative spin to the fantasy world of the town of Templeton.
I enjoyed the ride, as she gets the reader involved quickly with the introduction of Glimmey the Monster, who comes across as a shy creature from Lake Glimmerglass. She includes old photos and portraits to illustrate the heroine's ancestors, which is spot-on inventive. Groff's style is easy to handle and she sent me running to my James Fennimore Cooper collection, as suddenly I wanted to learn more about his connection to the backend link of this novel.
Inventive and fun to read, I only felt the drag hit around the 3/4 mark. Nevertless, it picked up again as the end came into view, but I sure wish I had more time with Glimmey.
Book Season = Autumn (monsters, ghosts, East Coast)
paspa, January 29, 2010 (view all comments by paspa)
I couldn't put this book down and I was sad when I finished it. A young woman is trying to find her father by searching her family tree. Each chapter is written from the point of view of different people. It is like having a compilation of short stories all tied together by this one descendent...and don't forget the monster!
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Tom Scruggs, March 26, 2008 (view all comments by Tom Scruggs)
An outstanding read. I was fascinated from the beginning and could hardly put it down. Groff has managed to craft a novel based on history that is compelling while adding a mystical note that adds an intrigue that completely draws you in. I look forward to Grogg's further efforts.
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bgelean, March 12, 2008 (view all comments by bgelean)
I liked this book a lot; it is complicated in its own way and yet all laid out for us in a relatively direct manner. The occasional (revised) family trees helped to keep it in order. I loved the first line in the version I read “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” Now, who wouldn’t be interested in a book that begins with the whole outer limits of the story presented in those few words? This book has so much within its pages! There are many stories within the story, some short, some longer, but all pertinent to the whole. There is also a quote from the Author’s Note referring to her final prompt to begin writing that I think gives us a glimpse of Lauren Groff’s own character as to how this story would be written: “That’s about the time his [James Fenimore Cooper] characters knocked on the door and joined the party.” This book is ostensibly about Willie (Wilhelmina) Upton, but it is also about a small town’s occupants, the history of both town and Willie’s heritage and much more. The book is descriptive, the characters are fully formed, and I can picture it all so easily. Willie came home from Alaska where she was working as part of an archaeology team, with a feeling of guilt and uselessness. Through living back in Templeton, Willie comes to an understanding of who she is. Her mother, a descendent of the town’s founding father Marmaduke Temple, challenges her to discover who her father is and tells her only that he lives in the town and is also a descendent of Marmaduke (Duke). An old school friend and an elderly librarian become two unlikely allies in her search. Each new search brings us another story as each descendent is “discovered”, and she learns there were more “monsters” in the town than the one in the lake, but it makes for a very interesting debut book. I am fascinated by Groff’s method and writing. I am certainly looking forward to more books by this author.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly,
"The sense of sadness I feel at the approaching end of The Monsters of Templeton isn't just because the story's going to be over; when you read a good one — and this is a very good one — those feelings are deepened by the realization that you probably won't tie into anything that much fun again for a long time."
"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."
by The Denver Post,
"Lauren Groff hits a home run in her first at-bat, with a novel that is intriguingly constructed and compulsively readable....Groff casts an ambitious net, and it absolutely works....And the elements do finally come together to a surprisingly satisfying end."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"The Monsters of Templeton, a fascinating first novel by Lauren Groff, is a book with joy in its marrow....Reading this exquisite book is like swimming through warm water filled with wondrous things...floating in a kind of timelessness."
by Library Journal,
"Liberally peppered with old photographs, diary entries, letters, and a family tree constantly in need of revision as Willie eliminates one possibility after another spanning more than two centuries of shocking Templeton history, this is an irresistible adventure. Highly recommended."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"Lauren Groff's multilayered saga...both thrills and delights with its poignant, breathtaking prose. (Grade: A)"
by Kirkus Reviews,
"[T]here seem to be two novels here, and they don't fit together terribly well. Flawed, but commendably ambitious and stuffed with ideas — many of them not well developed, but inspiring hope for a more disciplined second effort from this talented newcomer."
by Janet Maslin, The New York Times,
"Ms. Groff's inexperience shows in this overcrowding, as it does in overly mellifluous turns of phrase....But it speaks well for her narrative talents that Willie Upton...holds even more interest than the elaborate events that surround her."
by Lorrie Moore,
"The Monsters of Templeton is a bold and beautiful hybrid of a book....Lauren Groff is an exciting young novelist, gifted with an elegant prose style and a narrative ambition as deep and as serious as the human mysteries she sets out to explore."
by USA Today,
"Groff breathes new life into her vivid characters, even those on loan from Cooper's novels....The Monsters of Templeton makes readers work, but its rewards are worth it. Groff...is a talent to watch and celebrate."
by The Christian Science Monitor,
"The historical puzzle satisfies to the end, but in the present day, Groff tries a little too hard to smooth out Willie's future....Still, as a work of imagination, The Monsters of Templeton excels."
by Lauren Belfer,
"In The Monsters of Templeton Lauren Groff has crafted a multilayered story that is boldly inventive and surprising, by turns wistful, elegiac, and sweeping."
Wilhelmina Cooper is told that the key to her biological father's identitylies somewhere in her family's history. She buries herself in the research of her twisted family tree and finds that a chorus of voices from the town's past — some sinister, all fascinating — rises up around her to tell their side of the story.
In the wake of a wildly disastrous affair with her married archaeology professor, Willie Upton arrives on the doorstep of her ancestral home in storybook Templeton, New York, looking to hide in the one place to which she swore she'd never come back. As soon as she arrives, though, a prehistoric monster surfaces in Lake Glimmerglass, changing the very fabric of the town. What's more, Willie's hippie-turned-born-again-Baptist mother, Vi, tells her a secret she's been hiding for nearly thirty years: that Willie's father 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 when past and present blur, dark mysteries come to light, and the shocking truth about more than one monster is revealed.
"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.
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