This book is hard to categorize, part fiction, mystery and fantasy.
Willie (Wilhelmina) Upton has returned to her hometown of Templeton NY. She has left school at Stanford in disgrace and hopes to hide away in the town that her family has lived in for generations. On the day she arrives an enormous monster dies and rises to the surface of Lake Glimmerglass. Not knowing what to expect when she finally goes home to her mother she is shocked when Vi informs Willie that she lied about her father being a one night stand and that her true father lives in Templeton. So Willie sets out to find the truth about her father and along the way uncovers many family secrets and a few other âmonsters'.
I really, really liked this book. I loved the plot, the delving into the past, hearing the story in many different voices. I love the magic and supernatural embellishments; they added another fun layer to the story. There is more than one monster in this tale and it was so well done and enjoyable I was sorry to see it end; I have so many questions about so many of the characters I am longing for a sequel!!!
A high recommend.
I quite liked this novel. Parts of it were predictable, and the base story of a small town girl returning home was nothing new, but I enjoyed how the author interwove the heroine's story with the history of a ficitonalized Cooperstown, New York.
Willie is a bright 20-something year old college student who has a fling with a professor and runs home to mom when things go wrong. Willie's mother lied to her about the identity of her father so Willie spends the summer trying to figure out who her father is. Willie's ancestors founded the town and she digs back into the history to search for her identity. There is a "monster" in the town lake and ghosts in Willie's family home. I really liked the characters and think a sequel would be fun. Reading what the ancestors wrote was a little tedious at times but overall, a good read.
Lauren Groff's debut novel, The Monsters of Templeton, published by Hyperion in 2008, and it is a many-layered story of secrets -- both within a family and within a town. From the moment Wilhelmina "Willie" Upton returns to her hometown of Templeton, more events begin to unfurl, of which she has just recently left many to forget.
What a true disaster Willie's made of everything, really. A mess by her own making and embarrassed by her mistakes and poor personal choices, Willie is now a woman in her late twenties who, although is a smart archaeology grad student, can't really seem to make a good personal decision when it comes to men. She has a devastating end to her scandalous affair with her older, and married Professor, resulting in a pregnancy, and she feels even more intense guilt as she runs away, since she feels that she has abandoned her best friend, Clarissa in San Francisco, who is suffering from a devastating illness that requires many a hospital visit and treatment. It's really much too much for Willie to take in and manage, and since she's afraid that she will be kicked out of school because of her scandalous affair, she returns with her head hung low back to her childhood home and town and especially to her mother, maybe just to escape for a while to wait until either the dust settles, or some form of clarity manages to rise in the muddle of it all. Her mother, Vi, has a Bohemian past but is now a Sunday church regular, and has always raised Willie with the story that her father could have been any one of three hippies at a commune, but she now reveals a secret she's always kept, and which she now sets upon Willie to uncover the truth, if only to distract Willie from the massive mess she's made.
With the monster's corpse coming to the lake's surface, it brings a change to the town. The monster has always been myth, legend, speculation, but the monster was always believed to exist by the town (as much as a monster's existence can truly be believed, though) and no one truly knew the quiet, goodness it held. A whirl of visitors now floods into town to see, record, and report on the monster. Prior to this great event, the many visitors to the town only were tourists visiting the baseball museum, one fashioned after Groff's own home of Cooperstown.
It's an amazing story, full of secrets, ghosts, a monster of a lake, intertwined with love, sadness, regret. Amazing and quirky characters fill the pages, both real people in history polished with a little bit of fiction, along with brilliant humor and dark pain gracing each moment. I found myself comfortable and lolling in the story as I would imagine I would be in a small boat on the monster's lake.
I stayed up late to finish reading this. I was held hostage in the story and kept thinking, "what next?" There is such majesty of language, such smooth stringing of words even more beautiful and melodious when spoken, and I found that Lauren Groff tied up every story line, and not one thing was left out. I was able to close the book satisfied, and know that I didn't have one question left, save for my imagination walking by the lake with one of the characters, waiting for the fog to settle to see if maybe it was a trick of my eyes, or if I just saw one of the many monsters of the town. Great, fabulous, read -- I'm excited to read anything Lauren Groff has coming next!
I loved this book and found it totally engrossing toward the end. Although it is mostly told in the voice of Willie Upton, a girl with her own troubles and a mystery to figure out. Who is her father? This leads her to look through her family tree and with that the history (and scandals) of one of the most prominent families in her town. Sometimes the chapters are written by people in the past in their voices which can be confusing, but the mystery was fun and not always predicable. Although I enjoyed this book, I would not know who to recommend it to, it is so different of a novel, and is really complex due to its several story lines.
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 Templetoniansas well as characters borrowed from the works of James Fenimore Cooper, who named an upstate New York town Templeton in The PioneersGroff 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.
This is a beautifully written tale of a young woman who is dealing with many monsters, including herself. Monsters of course being both literal (Glimmy, the surfaced lake monster) and figurative (freaky dead relatives, ghosts, and her own depression). This is one of those books that has a light side and a dark side all interwoven in a mystery with characters every bit as vivid as a Barbara Kingsolver novel. I couldn't put it down.
Not a scary monster type story but a very interesting mystery riddled with lots of history and a few friendly monsters and ghosts. Lots of historical characters that at times can be confusing to keep track of but an org chart is provided from time to time to clarify. Enjoyed the method the writer used to combine the history and mystery. Loved the ending the best. Would read more of this writer and can recommend this book as a good story.
The angst of being young. In this case Willy is in her 20's. The story spans her summer at home the year before her final semester of her ph.d dissertation. She is researching who her father really is.
Included in Willys story is her family story. The other stories are interspersed and interesting. And the family stories do, eventually, lead Willy to an answer.
The Monsters... As near as I can figure there are 2. But I could be wrong.
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. 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).