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Arcadia Hardcover – March 13, 2012
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"I was constantly torn between wanting to gulp down this book or savor its lines. Even the most incidental details vibrate with life... Arcadia wends a harrowing path back to a fragile, lovely place you can believe in."―Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"A moving look at the value of human connection in a scary, chaotic world."―Entertainment Weekly
"Lauren Groff's dazzling new novel brings the flawed visions of a '60s commune to life... At a moment when so much floating anger struggles for articulation, it's Groff's essential human empathy that gives her work its urgency."―Vogue
"One of our best young novelists brings a lost Eden of hippiedom freshly to life... Groff's prismatic prose style lends itself to the darker currents that run beneath the Arcadian dream... both poetic and ambitious."―Elle
"Groff's beautiful prose make this an unforgettable read."―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"[A] beautifully crafted novel Groff's second novel, after the well-received The Monsters of Templeton (2008), gives full rein to her formidable descriptive powers, as she summons both the beauty of striving for perfection and the inevitable devastation of failing so miserably to achieve it."―Booklist (Starred Review)
"Arcadia feels true, as do the characters who populate this extraordinary novel, which lingers on passing moments in time and highlights the importance of place in preserving not only our memories, but also ourselves."―Hannah Tinti, author of the bestselling and award-winning novel The Good Thief
"Richly peopled and ambitious and oh, so lovely, Lauren Groff's Arcadia is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I've read in a long time. It's not possible to write any better without showing off."―Richard Russo, author of the novel That Old Cape Magic and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls
"Part Stone Diaries, part Lord of the Flies, part something out of a Shakespearean tragedy, Lauren Groff's Arcadia is so uniquely absorbing that you finish it as if waking from a dream. Groff is one of our most talented writers, and Arcadia one of the most revelatory, magical, and ambitious novels I've read in years."―Kate Walbert, author of the New York Times bestselling novel A Short History of Women
"An astonishing novel, both in ambition and achievement, filled with revelations that appear inevitable in retrospect, amid the cycle of life and death. A novel of "the invisible tissue of civilization," of "community or freedom," and of the precious fragility of lives in the balance."―Kirkus (Starred Review)
Top Customer Reviews
But the novel ground to a halt once Bit became an adult in the city. I came galloping eagerly out of the first part of the book, and hung with it pretty well during his time as a professor and his troubling non-relationship with Sylvie. But oh my god, the story hangs up dreadfully somewhere in there and becomes annoyingly lyrical as all action nearly stops and Bit becomes almost a non-entity. I am in the final chapters of the book and almost can't stand to read it anymore. I hate to abandon a book I've enjoyed as much as the earlier part of this one, but I'm not sure I can slog through the conclusion. Such a bummer.
Lauren Groff is more than 20 years younger than I am. As I write this, I'm about the same age as the main character in the last third or so of the book. It's almost miraculous to me that someone who hasn't yet reached this age can so accurately peg the combination of nostalgia, bitterness, and regret of looking back at childhood, living in the present, and being uncertain about the future. There's more than a whiff of Peter Pan and Never Never Land in the story, and I mean that in a good way. On top of that achievement, Groff has also constructed a perfectly convincing bridge from a time most of her readers clearly remember to a time we can only imagine.
This is a quiet novel, without drama and histrionics. It's also highly literate and intelligent. Read it. You'll be glad you did.
I lived in a commune from the age of 17 to almost 30, so I have to add that fact to my review of Arcadia. I will tell you my thoughts, and they are sort of jumbled together, so it's not a "good" or a "bad".... First, the NAMES for things were soooo reminiscent for me! We had a Home Place (Arcadia is the fictional Homeplace). Our Hatchery was Arcadia's "Pink Palace" for where the babies were born. The Monkey Crew (ours was the Construction Crew) ... "Inside" versus "Outside"... I could go on and on. Basically, we had our own language, and so this fact of Arcadia was astoundingly reminiscent and immensely enjoyable.
I believe it is human nature to rebel against what you know, so I had a hard time buying into Bit's unwavering love and loyalty for Arcadia. All the kids that had been born in my particular commune hated living there with a passion. They hated being different, and they couldn't wait to be old enough to bolt. Of course, now that they're older, they do appreciate the sense of family that existed, plus the fact that they have so many brothers and sisters throughout their lives.
I had a hard time with the author's timing of things. Knowing a thing or two about communes, I didn't buy that Arcadia was going strong while Ronald Reagan was in office (circa early '80's). That was after Jonestown. I believe the concept of the hippie commune was on the wane during that time. And the non-self-sustaining issue was also hard to swallow. For a real commune to exist for so long, they would have had to be way more organized than Arcadia was. The book describes Hannah as being pissed off or depressed a lot of the time because there was no money and no food.Read more ›
The novel is beautifully written. People and locations are portrayed keenly, vividly. Tenderness, love, beauty, pain. It's all here, and more.
The imagery Groff uses on page after page took my breath away--and by the last third or so, I was weeping. Here is the very stuff of life. Hope, dreams, love, how to live, lost hope, lost dreams, lost love, death. Bit, the protagonist, is beautifully crafted and will break your heart.
It's a gorgeous book. I can't stop thinking about it. I'm going to read it again. Writers know that the most particular and specific may also be the most universal. Nevertheless, sometimes a book comes along that you think has been written just for you. ARCADIA is like that. If you care about the world, buy a copy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this because a book list put together by teachers from my old high school said it was a wonderful story, "Just read it". Read morePublished 2 days ago by Darragh Brady
A lot happened in this book and a lot of things went wrong for basically everyone in it. it sometimes made me angry other times made me laugh and at other times just made me sad. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Cherisse
An interesting book about commune living and its after effects on the lives of those who lived it. Took me back to the 1960's when there were so many cults and communes around. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Nancy C
4-part novel about growing up on a hippie commune and the aftermath when it all falls apart, as told through the eyes of the first child born at Arcadia. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lorraine S.
I'm about two thirds of the way through this book. Lauren's style is a bit flowery and takes a while to get used to, the story moves quickly, and her aversion to use quotation... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Arlene E. Bourns
This author is so good at spinning a story. I also read THE MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON. I look forward to reading more
The idea of reading a story about a protagonist who grows up in a commune didn't really appeal to me but I'd just read FATES AND FURIES and was anxious to read another of this... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Romance Reader
I just did not like the book. The plot and characters were not provacative or engaging. I am part of the 60's movement and generation and could not connect with this story.Published 2 months ago by Linda N.