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Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Arcadia (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Lauren Groff

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959949,040 (3.82)88
Authors:Lauren Groff
Info:Voice (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Arcadia by Lauren Groff (2012)

  1. 10
    Drop City by T. C. Boyle (booklove2)
    booklove2: Another amazing novel on hippie communes trying to find their place. Also, a similar writing style.
  2. 00
    The Hypocrisy of Disco: A Memoir by Clane Hayward (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: One is fiction, the other is non-fiction, but both are about childhoods in hippie communes
  3. 00
    The Beach by Alex Garland (booklove2)
    booklove2: The unending search for utopia that falls apart
  4. 00
    Room by Emma Donoghue (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both are excellently written; both stories are about raising a baby boy in a completely non-traditional setting and include strong depictions of being a mother in extreme circumstances.

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Read this quickly over just a few days in preparation for book club. I'm normally not much of a fan of interiority - more of a plot and action and dialogue sort of person. But the heavy amount of interiority in Arcadia was very well done and the issues it raised were fascinating to think of. What does it mean to build community? What does it mean to grow up on a commune, raised by the village; how does it affect your development? Is it true that one can either have community, or have freedom, but not have both? (As a character questions in the book). These questions are also what made this book an excellent choice for my book club as we had a great discussion sparked by these issues. I really love the idea of alternative ways to build family, to define community, to satisfy that basic human need to connect to each other. I admire the idealists and utopians who set out to build an alternative community structure in the modern world. I love the belief in alternative visions of community and society. Arcadia gave me lots to think about. The last section lost me a bit as it started to bring in all these larger issues which I didn't think was necessary. The heart of the book - the parts that everyone will remember and talk about - is the beginning and the middle when the activity is focused on the rise and fall of a 70s era commune called Arcadia and the impact of this environment on the book's protagonist, Bit, first child born on the commune.
  wintersdoor | Jul 2, 2017 |
I loved this book. I can't stop thinking about it. The writing was absolutely lyrical. My surprise is that the author did not actually live this life. It felt so authentic to me, brought back so many memories - the ideals, the love of the natural world, life in a chosen community, when it is at its best. For me, the novel captured the magic of that time, the grand experiment, whatever its eventual failings. I especially appreciated the contrast with the nearby Amish Community. ( )
  EllsieFind | Apr 18, 2017 |
Bit Stone is the first child born into a commune, Arcadia, in process of being founded in upstate New York. We follow Bit from the early days of the Arcadia through its heyday and its eventual demise. And onward to life beyond Arcadia and what that might mean, for good or ill. Ever Bit is connected, first and foremost to family — his mother, Hannah, and his father, Abe — and second to the other members of Arcadia. And especially to Helle, daughter of Arcadia’s founder, Handy, and as troubled a soul as one might find in heaven or without. Bit grows but never loses his pure love for Arcadia, even if it exists primarily in his mind in the end. What starts out as an apparent social historical novel develops a grander sweep carrying us with Bit into a future that is filled with loss. And yet Bit finds new hope, eventually, through a return, temporarily, to the land that nurtured him in his youth.

The writing here is gorgeous. Lyrical and gothic in turns, it captures both the idyllic nature of Bit’s childhood and the dark aspects of that which he cannot entirely keep at bay. That it turns surprisingly grim is just part of what makes this such an interesting read.

Recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Feb 16, 2017 |
Formal review will be posted on Flyway blog @ http://flyway.org/blog/ ( )
  StefanieBrookTrout | Feb 4, 2017 |
This is a book that is melancholy - written beautifully, but emotionally, a bit a flat. The characters were interesting, and I enjoyed reading about their life, but they never seemed to go anywhere. Bit is still the same innocent kid, even after growing up. Hannah, always looking for something that doesn't exist. Helle, lost, never found. The only really "real" character is Grete.

I found the setup of Arcadia incredibly interesting. I suspect that its a fairly good representation of how a commune was setup. However - the timing of the story, seemed off - especially at the end the book. I think it could have been a much better book if it didn't end in the near future - it didn't fit the first two parts of the story, hippie Arcadia, and modern Boston. I also wished it closed Helle's Story - even a mention would have been all that is needed. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Jan 28, 2017 |
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The lyrical and haunting story of a great American dream--the progress of a utopian community and its lasting impact on a gifted young man.

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