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Arcadia by Lauren Groff
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Arcadia (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Lauren Groff

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8698710,234 (3.84)84
Member:mdexter
Title:Arcadia
Authors:Lauren Groff
Info:Voice (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

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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Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
In Arcadia, we meet a group of idealistic young adults who left their own families and comfortable lives behind to found a hippie-utopian community called Arcadia. While there are a whole cast of complicated, wonderful characters, the story focuses on Hannah and Abe along with their son Ridley, who is the first child born in Arcadia. As the community struggles to create, develop, and maintain their ideal society, they constantly experience conflict, from each other as well as the outside world. Especially, the Arcadians have to come to terms with the ways that American culture has changed and shifted away from them and their ideals.

When we first meet Ridley, he is a very young boy, and we follow him through many decades of his life. We experience the world through his eyes, and share his excitement, discoveries, highs and lows, and his relationship with the world and people around him. His life mirrors the life of Arcadia itself. When it prospers and grows, so does he. When he falters and loses his way, so does the community. This reconciliation between the individual and the community is a driving force for Ridley and Arcadia. Overall, Arcadia is a lovely story about family, friendships, community, and the strength of the human spirit. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
In Arcadia, we meet a group of idealistic young adults who left their own families and comfortable lives behind to found a hippie-utopian community called Arcadia. While there are a whole cast of complicated, wonderful characters, the story focuses on Hannah and Abe along with their son Ridley, who is the first child born in Arcadia. As the community struggles to create, develop, and maintain their ideal society, they constantly experience conflict, from each other as well as the outside world. Especially, the Arcadians have to come to terms with the ways that American culture has changed and shifted away from them and their ideals.

When we first meet Ridley, he is a very young boy, and we follow him through many decades of his life. We experience the world through his eyes, and share his excitement, discoveries, highs and lows, and his relationship with the world and people around him. His life mirrors the life of Arcadia itself. When it prospers and grows, so does he. When he falters and loses his way, so does the community. This reconciliation between the individual and the community is a driving force for Ridley and Arcadia. Overall, Arcadia is a lovely story about family, friendships, community, and the strength of the human spirit. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
I read this back in October 2014, but never got around to reviewing it. Lauren Groff is a problem for me. I abandoned her first novel, The Monsters of Templeton, after 75 pages, because I was bored to tears. I would have abandoned this one, too, but it was a book club selection and therefore as mandatory to finish as homework.

This book is about Bit Stone, a kid raised in a hippie commune whose de facto leader is a musician who seems decidedly shady. The commune predictably collapses into chaos after a drug raid, and then the narrative turns to Bit as an adult. There are more drugs, there is degenerative illness, there is a worldwide epidemic of apocalyptic proportions. All this is told in prose that is often arrestingly beautiful.

What doesn't this book have? An ounce of emotion. The consensus in my book club was that the book viewed all of its characters from a distance, and the effect was beautiful but chilly.

Part of the problem for me might be a matter of expectations. The McGuffin of her books is so intriguing (a Loch Ness monster; cultish hippies) that it leads me to believe I'm in for a great story. But Groff is not a storyteller. She is, apparently, an artiste. ( )
  CasualFriday | Mar 27, 2016 |
I enjoyed Lauren Groff's latest novel, Fates and Furies, earlier this year, so I thought I would give Arcadia a try. The two books couldn't be more different--with the exception that they both showcase the author's fine writing. Arcadia takes us through roughly 40 years in the life of Bit Stone, the fist child born in the commune of Arcadia. Groff paints an idyllic if makeshift childhood for Bit amongst the waterfalls, forest, birds, and hippies. The Arcadians welcome anyone and everyone, which sometimes gets them into a bit of trouble; yet they generally eschew the outside world--except when money is short and their charismatic leader goes off on a tour of singing engagements.

Of course, as Bit matures, he begins to see the snakes and thorns in paradise: the privileges accorded to their leader despite an "all for one" philosophy, the growing drug abuse among his peers, his adored mother's weariness with a life of poverty, and more. Fast forward about 20 years. Arcadia has fallen apart, and Bit now lives in New York with his young daughter, making his living as a photography professor. Bit fills in the gaps on all the characters from his past life, and the reader gains insight into how the clash between his unconventional upbringing and the world he has had to adjust to have shaped his life. The story takes a somewhat apocalyptic turn towards the end that I don't want to give away. But overall, Arcadia is a novel built upon the power of memories, hope, and love, and in Bit Stone, Groff has created a character both recognizable and unforgettable. ( )
6 vote Cariola | Feb 17, 2016 |
For my review of Lauren Groff’s Arcadia I'll begin with Richard Russo’s book blurb: "Richly peopled and ambitious and oh, so lovely, ... Arcadia is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I've read in a long time. …."

Lauren Groff’s most recent novel, Fate and Furies, received many positive reviews. After seeing Charlie Rose’s interview of Groff in Jan 2016, I read Fate & Furies. I did NOT enjoy F&F very much. Given all the accolades Groff has received, I decided to read her earlier novel, Arcadia. I had a completely different reaction to Arcadia. Four stars for Arcadia with its wonderfully developed characters and fascinating views of times and places.

In their book blurbs, two other authors (or their publicists) comment on why this book is so appealing. I agree.

Walbert, Kate: "Part Stone Diaries, part Lord of the Flies, part something out of a Shakespearean tragedy, ... Arcadia is so uniquely absorbing that you finish it as if waking from a dream. Groff is one of our most talented writers, and Arcadia one of the most revelatory, magical, and ambitious novels I've read in years." (Author of A Short History of Women)

Tinti, Hannah: “Arcadia feels true, as do the characters who populate this extraordinary novel, which lingers on passing moments in time and highlights the importance of place in preserving not only our memories, but also ourselves.” (Author of The Good Thief) ( )
  JSWBooks | Feb 15, 2016 |
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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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