The Monsters of Templeton – Lauren Groff

This book, for one reason only,  grabbed my attention as I  perused  3 for 2 offers in a bookshop–the author has my last name. Well, my maiden name. Its rare to see it outside of Pennsylvania, let alone all the way over here in England. So, I snatched it up, and read the back cover.  As it turns out, there was another similaritity. Namely, that the heroine (of sorts) is an archaeologist. Those two similarities, and an interesting sounding plot cinched my purchase. So, after choosing 2 more books, I got to chatting to the sales assistant at the register. She highly recommended the book, saying, ‘Its not what you think it will be about’.

She was right…the monsters aren’t what, or who, you think they are.

From reading the back cover, the book was almost precisely what I thought it would be about.  The beginning of the book sees our plucky heroine (of sorts), Willie Upton, coming back to her hometown after sleeping with her professor, almost killing his wife, AND thinking she’s pregnant. Whew! Nice to start off with alot on the plate, and the author delivers up something juicy. Willie isn’t a heroine, and she’s not an anti-heroine. She’s just a 28-year old trying to sort the mess she’s made of her life. She doesn’t think she’ll be able to finish her PhD, she might be having a baby, her best friend is ill, and her mother  is a total-hippie-turned-born-again-Christian.  If that’s not enough to shake a lady’s world, how about this: Templeton, her home town (based on Cooperstown, NY), has just discovered a giant, dead monster floating, belly-up, in Lake Glimmerglass.  Strangely, the monster rides shotgun to the main plot of Willie and her struggles.  However, the moster (named Glimmey by the press), seems to be an avatar of the town, a strange representation.  The discovery of the monster is also a metaphor for Templeton, because Willie, in her self-prescribed confinement, starts digging around in her famous family’s history unearths many secrets in the process.

The atmosphere of The Monsters of Templeton is wonderfully homey. It makes you want to live in Templeton, secrets and monsters be damned. Templeton is the main character, you will come to realise, as everything revolves around her like the sun. Templeton, as we learn, is what her populace, her founders, made her to be. She seems to change with their fears and hopes, their despair and dreams. Willie, her mother Vi, and her best friend Clarissa are all intensely likable, if not flawed characters. The flaws are what make them likable, which, in my opinion, is very true to life. There are many secondary characters in the story, and they are all beautifully rounded, with personal histories and eccentricities all their own. Of course, there are certain times (I will NOT give away a main part of the plot) in which I personally feel that the main characters are given a few easy ways out, but on the whole the plot smoothly takes you on an historical ride through Templeton’s, and Willie’s ancestor’s, past.

Buy it here.

P.S.:   READ the authors preface–its interesting, and might give you a better initiation into the book.

2 responses »

  1. youngwifey says:

    Wow! I’m intrigued. Any only if I could get my students to write reviews like that!

  2. riotflower says:

    I agree! Great review! You should so some freelancing…

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