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Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Arcadia (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Lauren Groff

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6977113,645 (3.82)64
Authors:Lauren Groff
Info:Voice (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Read 2012

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Arcadia by Lauren Groff (2012)

Recently added byprivate library, Suew456, leahbirdwishes, AThurman, austinksa, mcolman, msf59, lisan., Milda-TX, KelMunger
  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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I'd have enjoyed this one more if its perspective reached out beyond that of its protagonist, Bit. The first half detailing the commune could have been great with a broader perspective. Bit's nostalgia-shrouded later life, taking up the latter half of the book, had less interest for me. ( )
  AThurman | Dec 7, 2014 |
Interesting depiction of what life might be like for someone raised on a commune. Over-simplified, I'm sure, but still painted a vivid image in my mind. ( )
  CLStern | Jul 29, 2014 |
In the beginning ... this story was just a little too stereotypical in characters and action, but I warmed to the book when things stopped being so hippie dippy idyllic. That's it; give me pain and suffering, and things start to bogie story wise for me. This is your 1960s large commune that struggles from the beginning, but most of the bizarre people assembled start out working towards a common goal.

There are many characters introduced as Groff tries to give you a lay of the communal landscape, some will be front and center, and some will just be rather cardboard and beaded figures moving around in the background. ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 25, 2014 |
There is something magical about Arcadia. I was sucked in to the story from the first sentence, and I know that the characters will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended! ( )
  susanbevans | Jul 1, 2014 |
One of the best books I've read this year, Arcadia is a beautiful, moving saga that tells the story of Bit from womb almost to tomb. The story centers around his relationship to a commune his parents settled in when he was born and is told in four parts that depict four stages in his life: the first remarkably told from the perspective of an observant toddler in the late 1960s, the second from an adolescent in the early 1980s as the commune clashes with Reagan's war on drugs and the old timers clash with the newcomers, the third as a roughly 40 year-old adult in roughly the present as he works to raise his young child, and the final set in the near future as he returns to his parents home on the commune as global warming and a pandemic dominate the headlines.

Arcadia covers so much emotional ground that it is hard to reduce it to any individual theme. Bit's looking up to idealistic but practical father, his trying to support his mother whose depression is especially severe in winters, his learning from the local "witch" Verda, his lust, marriage and subsequent loss of Helle the daughter of the commune's founder, and his raising their daughter Grete from a typical toddler to a teenager with an independent streak.

Arcadia, the commune, is like a character too--one that flourishes, collapses, and then is partially reborn as a tiny fraction of itself. And Arcadia casts a long shadow on the lives of the people who lived their, especially the children like Bit who were born there and knew nothing of the outside world until they were older, a shadow that Lauren Groff traces as various of the dozens of characters cross paths with Bit as the story unfolds. Throughout it all, Groff is not naive about the ideals of the commune and the large shortfalls of its residents, but her tone is more respectful than it is satirical.

Arcadia is not particularly plot driven, and all the dialogue is woven into the text without quotation marks, but it is in many ways a relatively conventional family saga--albeit an unconventional family and unconventionally told with only glimpses backward at many of the major events. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
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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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