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The Monsters of Templeton Hardcover – February 5, 2008
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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
There is a real monster in Templeton, who dies the day Willie arrives at her mother's house. But the danger in reading The Monsters of Templeton lies in interpreting things too literally. At heart, this is a coming of age story involving a heroine a bit older than most in the coming of age genre. Willie has had an unorthodox upbringing in a town that, immediately below its surface, is as unorthodox as they come. Its founding, its founder, its history, its long-term inhabitants, and its current persona are all unusual, to say the least. Some have characterized Willie as immature. I view her as a young woman caught between two worlds, two times, who is trying to find her self and her destiny, both within her family history and outside of it. And, by returning to her formerly despised hometown, and by allowing Templeton to be itself, and by utilizing her own formidable education to delve into her own ancestry regardless of what it might reveal, Willie does manage to set herself on the right path. She comes to terms with her past, her present, and, as much as possible, with her future. If that isn't magical, I don't know what is. Congratulations to author Groff for producing a strong piece of literature her first time out.
Or rather, it's a "slantwise" version of Cooperstown, with lake monsters, friendly ghosts, and a tangle of ancient family secrets. Lauren Groff's "The Monsters of Templeton" is a cleverly interwoven mystery of old secrets, poetic writing and forgotten scandals, but her heroine is the book's Achilles heel.
Willie Upton is returning to her mother's shabby mansion, pregnant and disgraced after trying to run over her married lover's wife. On the same morning, a gigantic monster is found floating in the nearby lake.
Unsurprisingly, Willie is far more interested in her own problems, especially when her hippie-turned-Baptist mother reveals that Willie was not conceived in a free-love orgy, but with a man she knows right in Templeton. To distract herself from her woes, Willie decides to take a single clue and explore back through her family's history, hoping to find the man who fathered her.
Turns out the Temple family tree has a lot of memorable people -- a savvy slave girl, an ethereal Schizophrenic, a pyromaniac, at least one murderer, a popular novelist, a gentle giant. And as Willie backtracks through her family tree, she finds that the secret of her father's ancestry is intertwined in family scandals long forgotten...
It sounds like a fairly ordinary "family saga" novel, doesn't it? But Groff does infuse something special into the story, including touches of magical realism (an immortal town weirdo, a long-lived lake monster, and a lilac ghost) and a series of family accounts that intertwine over time. Which ones are true, and which are self-serving lies? Well, that's up to the reader.Read more ›
Set in the fictional town of Templeton, NY (fashioned after Cooperstown), Willie Upton has come home to deal with being pregnant by a professor at Stanford, where she was attending college. Believing herself to be the product of her mother's counter-culture ways in 1970's San Francisco, she is stunned to find out that her father might actually live in Templeton. This is the story of Willie's search for her father, and her wacky genealogical discoveries along the way. Groff even includes "photos" of Willie's ancestors!
Some of the other subjects in this book are Alaska, Archaeology, Arson, Baseball, Clergy, Community Life, Dreams, Friendship, Ghosts, Lakes, Libraries, Murder, Museums, Native Americans, Orphans, Prostitutes, Reading, Runners, Sea Monsters, Summer, Swimming, Toys, Trees, Virtues, Wealth, Widows/Widowers, and Writers. Isn't that enough to make you read it?
I didn't find any deep meaning to this story, but it was a joy to go along for the ride, with all of its crazy twists and turns.
I liked not being able to predict the ending. The Monsters of Templeton is a really entertaining book!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well-written and easy to read. Slightly weird plot (I kinda just ignored the metaphorical funny-business) but with likable characters, I still had fun reading.Published 1 day ago by Tommy Martin
I really enjoyed this book, it was entertaining, thought provoking and funny. There is a narrative purpose guiding the plot of the book but it does not have a traditional linier... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Michelle M
In general I admire Lauren Groff's work. This book while illuminating in terms of the family and town history was often hard to follow in spite of the helpful genealogical charts... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joy McGovern
I liked it but also didn't. Half the characters were kind of unlikeable but not in a Great Gatsby cynic wayPublished 2 months ago by Hannah
Not only was this a great mother/daughter story, but it was also historical fiction, epistolary novel, and magical fantasy. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jill Levin
Great read.. Very different plot and characters. Excellent writing. Would recommend.Published 4 months ago by Helga S. Arthur
I live a few miles from Templeton (Cooperstown, NY) and have an office in a building on Main Street. Read morePublished 4 months ago by jimmyjames
I got this book because the setting is in my hometown, Cooperstown, NY. Brought back memories of home.Published 4 months ago by c