“Groff's engrossing first novel is wonderfully difficult to classify. Willie Upton returns to her ancestral home in Templeton (actually Cooperstown, NY) to recover from a personal crisis. She then decides to seek the identity of her father. This mystery unfolds through the tales of long-dead relatives and others from Willie's past, which is also Cooperstown's past. And then there's that dead sea-monster that's brought out of the lake....”
— Carol Dunn, Northwind Book & Fiber, Spooner, WI
Spring/Summer '09 Reading Group List
“Disgraced grad student Wilhelmina Cooper returns to her upstate New York hometown to lick her wounds. Her mother gives her new purpose: a research project to track down the father she's never known -- or maybe has. Voices from the town's past slowly reveal their stories, and we see Templeton has had more monsters than just the one in the town lake.”
— Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
"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. In the wake of a disastrous love affair with her older, married archaeology professor at Stanford, brilliant Wilhelmina Cooper arrives back at the doorstep of her hippie mother-turned-born-again-Christian's house in Templeton, NY, a storybook town her ancestors founded that sits on the shores of Lake Glimmerglass. Upon her arrival, a prehistoric monster surfaces in the lake bringing a feeding frenzy to the quiet town, and Willie learns she has a mystery father her mother kept secret Willie's entire life. The beautiful, broody Willie is told that the key to her biological father's identity lies somewhere in her family's history, so she buries herself in the research of her twisted family tree and finds more than she bargained for as a chorus of voices from the town's past -- some sinister, all fascinating -- rise up around her to tell their side of the story. In the end, dark secrets come to light, past and present day are blurred, and old mysteries are finally put to rest. The Monsters of Templeton is a fresh, virtuoso performance that has placed Lauren Groff among the best writers of today.
About the Author
Lauren Groff is the author of The Monsters of Templeton, shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers; Arcadia, a New York Times Notable Book, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and finalist for the L.A. Times Book Award; and Fates and Furies, a National Book Award finalist. Her writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Tin House, One Story, McSweeney's, and Ploughshares, and in the anthologies 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and three editions of The Best American Short Stories. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and two sons.
"Richly imagined. . . . What Groff illustrates so deeply, and uniquely, is the difficulty of shaking off one's family ties, one's roots."—Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Groff's multilayered saga both thrills and delights with poignant, breathtaking prose. A"—Entertainment Weekly
"At the heart of Lauren Groff's ambitious debut novel is a simple question. . . . But how that mystery is solved--through three centuries of one family's history overflowing with scandals and secrets--makes it a delightful and challenging novel. . . . The Monsters of Templeton makes readers work, but its rewards are worth it. Groff . . . is a talent to watch and celebrate."—USA Today
"The Monsters of Templeton, a fascinating first novel by Lauren Groff, is a book with joy in its marrow--fabulous."—San Francisco Chronicle
"Part mystery and part history. . . . Groff turns her story into a meditation on the nature of change and how evolution--of a place, a family, a person--even if it's diffcult and unsettling, can bring joyous rewards."—Miami Herald
"Monsters will give you paper cuts from turning pages."—Marie Claire
"Fabulously inventive . . . follows the trend of recent books such as March, Finn, and Ahab's Wife of extracting characters from classic novels, adding two cups of history, a quart of imagination, and stirring vigorously."—The Christian Science Monitor
"Groff's lyrical debut . . . brilliantly incorporates accounts from generations of Templetonians--as well as characters "borrowed" from the works of James Fenimore Cooper. Groff paints a rich picture . . . readers will delight in Willie's sharp wit and Groff's creation of an entire world, complete with a lake monster and illegitimate children."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"In The Monsters of Templeton, Lauren Groff has crafted a multi-layered story that is boldly inventive and surprising, by turns wistful, elegiac, and sweeping."—Lauren Belfer, author of City of Light
"Lauren Groff's debut novel, The Monsters of Templeton, is everything a reader might have expected from this gifted writer, and more. Willie is a funny, sexy, plucky heroine; her Mom--a once-upon-a-time hippie who's gone Baptist but not square--is a hoot; her family history is a funhouse through which Willie must wander in order to find her father. Best of all is Templeton, a town that will remind readers of Ray Bradbury at his most magical. There are monsters, murders, bastards, and ne'er-do-wells almost without number. I was sorry to see this rich and wonderful novel come to an end, and there is no higher success than that."—Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
"Lauren Groff hits a home run in her first at-bat, with a novel that is intriguingly constructed and compulsively readable."—Denver Post
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