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The Monsters of Templeton

by Lauren Groff

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,5911564,342 (3.63)183
"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 contemporary story, part historical novel, and part ghost story, this spellbinding novel is at its core a tale of how one town holds the secrets of a family. In the wake of a wildly disastrous affair, Willie Upton arrives on the doorstep of her ancestral home in Templeton, New York, where her hippie-turned-born-again-Baptist mom, Vi, still lives. Willie expects to be able to hide in the place that has been home to her family for generations, but the monster's death changes the fabric of the quiet, picture-perfect town her ancestors founded. Even further, Willie learns that the story her mother had always told her about her father has all been a lie: he wasn't the random man from a free-love commune, but someone from this very town. As Willie digs for the truth about her lineage, she discovers that the secrets of her family run deep. Through letters, editorials, and journal entries, the dead rise up to tell their sides of the story as dark mysteries come to light, past and present blur, old stories are finally put to rest, and the shocking truth about more than one monster is revealed.… (more)
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» See also 183 mentions

English (153)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
Adult fiction. Willie uncovers loads of secrets in her family history whilst searching for her true father; the story is intertwined with interesting subplots. Very likeable, lifelike characters. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
The way the author tied things up at the end was a little weird, but I really liked the way this book unfolded in general. The collage of narration and documentation was nice, and I liked the mingling of things that were realistic and things that were fantastic. I'll read more by Groff. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
This is a surreal blend of history, fantasy, and mystery. A large portion of the book is flashbacks to the protagonist's ancestors, which makes it a little difficult to follow as her family tree is uncovered and various related characters are introduced through letters, photographs and vignettes. It took me a little while to get a grasp on the format, but it was a steady read once that happened. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
A very enjoyable, uneven book with a frustrating main character, a book driven mostly by love of place, richly observed. Some wonderful writing, and a monster deep in the water. Though I am a fantasy reader, oddly the fantasy elements of this book were mostly only jarring elements for me; they seemed too convenient. In addition, I felt that the resolution was inconclusive and unsatisfying. But it was a compulsive read for me, with wonderful writing, and the monster will remain with me. ( )
  dmturner | Jun 29, 2020 |
This was good and at times very entertaining though I definitely prefer Groff's more recent short stories. ( )
  viviennestrauss | May 31, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
A first-time novelist sets herself a nearly impossible task by employing characters invented by a novelist acknowledged as an American master. Unlike James Fenimore Cooper, though, Groff can write. . . And while I loved the unintentional effrontery of showing up that unreadable great, I was also conscious of being a captive audience at a recital. . . “The Monsters of Templeton” is propelled, and undone, by ambition.
 
The result is a pleasurably surreal cross between The Stone Diaries and Kind Hearts and Coronets.
 
The trouble with “The Monsters of Templeton” is that its complications seem nonstop. . . Ms. Groff’s inexperience shows in this overcrowding, as it does in overly mellifluous turns of phrase (“the deer darting startled through the dark”). And she tries out more voices and documents than she can comfortably create.
 
The whole find-your-real-dad scavenger hunt is a little contrived. . . But Groff has concocted such a rich trove of source documents – portraits, old letters, journal entries, and reminiscences by characters lifted from Fenimore Cooper's writings – that readers will be too busy gleefully burrowing into the fictitious past she has created to mind.
 
[A] delightful and challenging novel. . . Groff breathes new life into her vivid characters, even those on loan from Cooper's novels.
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lauren Groffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, Ann MarieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, BethCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Ah, my friend, 'tis true!" cried old Natty
Bumppo, slapping his knee. "A man cannot know
hisself if he don't know where he come from."
—Jacob Franklin Temple,
The Pilgrims of Templeton
Who can open the doors of his face? His teeth are
terrible round about. . . By his neesings a light
doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the
morning . . . He maketh a path to shine after him;
one would think the deep to be hoary. Upon earth
there is not his like, who is made without fear.
He beholdeth all things: he is a king over
all the children of pride.

—The King James Bible,
Job 41: 14, 18, 32-34
This is a story of creation.
—Marmaduke Temple,
Tales of the American Wilderness, 1797
Dedication
For my parents, Gerald and Jeannine Groff
First words
The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass. It was one of those strange purple dawns that color July there, when the bowl made by the hills fills with a thick fog and even the songbirds sing timorously, unsure of the day or night.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"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 contemporary story, part historical novel, and part ghost story, this spellbinding novel is at its core a tale of how one town holds the secrets of a family. In the wake of a wildly disastrous affair, Willie Upton arrives on the doorstep of her ancestral home in Templeton, New York, where her hippie-turned-born-again-Baptist mom, Vi, still lives. Willie expects to be able to hide in the place that has been home to her family for generations, but the monster's death changes the fabric of the quiet, picture-perfect town her ancestors founded. Even further, Willie learns that the story her mother had always told her about her father has all been a lie: he wasn't the random man from a free-love commune, but someone from this very town. As Willie digs for the truth about her lineage, she discovers that the secrets of her family run deep. Through letters, editorials, and journal entries, the dead rise up to tell their sides of the story as dark mysteries come to light, past and present blur, old stories are finally put to rest, and the shocking truth about more than one monster is revealed.

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Publisher's Summary:
In the wake of a disastrous affair with her older, married archeology professor at Stanford, brilliant Wilhelmina Cooper arrives back at the doorstep of her hippie mother-turned-born-again-Christian's house in Templeton, New York - 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 has kept secret for Willie's entire life.

The beautiful, broody Willie is told that the key to her biological father's identity lies somewhere in her twisted family tree. She 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.

This is a fresh, virtuoso performance that will surely place Groff among the best young writers of today.
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