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The Monsters of Templeton Paperback – November 4, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 210 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Groff's tale of a young woman searching for her true identity through old letters, journals and articles is a vivid portrait of the past and present, but Nicole Roberts's delivery is far too stolid and contrived to bring the material to life. As if reading a teleprompter, Roberts sounds more like a news anchor, slightly disconnected from the material and doing her best to make it sound important. At times she races through the story at breakneck pace, at others she reads painfully slow as if reading to a group of uninterested first graders. While her pitch is clear, her tone is almost plastic and fake, making the story so dreary and unimaginative that most listeners will be immediately turned off.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140134092X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401340926
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on October 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Monsters of Templeton is written by a woman who grew up in Cooperstown, NY, in which this novel is set. Willie Upton, descendant of the fictional counterpart of James Fenimore Cooper, comes flying home at the age of 28, rebounding from a disastrous affair with her doctoral advisor in the fear that she is pregnant. She has also tried to murder the wife of her paramour. Once she arrives home in NY, Willie embarks on a series of genealogical quests.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I think I was originally expecting something different from a book called, 'The Monsters of Templeton" that was hugely endorsed by the maestro of literary horror Stephen King. And yes in the book's opening passage an enormous sea creature washes up lakeside, and there's some pulsing ghost like entity that lives in the childhood home of our returning protagonist. However, beyond that this is simply a book about a woman discovering the secret of her lineage through the letters and correspondence of her multitude of ancestors, some of whom are monstrous indeed. Three quarters of the way through I found myself caring less about if Willie would figure out the mystery of who her father was, and instead was more smitten with Groff's romance with the town of Templeton which is directly copied from Upstate New York's Coopertown, where the author grew up. It's all small town USA, Stars Hollowesque with a Greek Chorus of joggers who pass the year with their own few chapters to mark their individual lives throughout the seasons. I don't know if one could call the book completely successful if I'm not caring about the main plot of the story, yet at the same time, I did find myself looking Cooperstown up on the internet, and checking out the various Bed and Breakfasts in the area and wondering about a trip.
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Format: Hardcover
As explained at the beginning of this book, Templeton is actually Cooperstown. You know, the place with the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow, how do I describe this book? The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff, is a fiction/fantasy/mystery/ghost story unlike anything I've read in quite a long time, and it is close to being brilliant.
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!
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