Hollie D. (Sunbury, OH)
Carol Goodman is pretty reliable, and I’ve read all of her novels, but with Arcadia Falls, I think she slips a bit. I’m frustrated because she’s so very close to writing great stories, but they don’t always transcend just average fiction. That said, I enjoyed the book and can’t say I’m sorry I spent the time reading it.
She wobbles a bit here from her usual commitment to hiding clues in material objects, an art history approach that I always find entertaining and didn’t find as much of here. The “story within a story” approach appears in all her books, but not to as much advantage here as in other works. She still has a terrific ability to generate atmosphere, and the haunting atmosphere of the woods serves the story well.
I did wish for a slightly less convoluted plot. I don’t mind mulling a book over afterward, but if I have to stop ten pages from the end to say, “So that means that….???,” then that’s probably not a good sign. Arcadia Falls also stretches my limits of credulity – we’re supposed to believe that the protagonist finds a long-missing journal from a woman she’s spent years researching for a doctoral thesis, and it takes her weeks to get to the end of it?
As said, just a few small flaws which, in my opinion, keep Arcadia Falls from being one of Goodman’s best works to date. But she’s close enough that I’ll be first in line for the next book!
Karen R. (Columbus, OH)
Very Good Read
I normally do not like "stories within stories." When I read a book, I like to read the main story. In Acadia Falls, there are several stories within stories, and I enjoyed all of them. This is a book that I thought about when I was not reading, and looked forward to getting back to. All of the stories. The writing was good, the characters were interesting, and the multiple stories all very engaging.
Sharon V. (Chicago, IL)
The name of this book could be “The Changeling Girl”, the fairy tale written by Lily Eberhardt, one of the founders of the artists’ colony at Arcadia Falls. The story shifts from the present day where Meg and her daughter Sally relocate from Great Neck to the 1920’s when the artist’s colony is founded by Vera and Lily and story really begins.
The magical setting of Arcadia Falls almost seems to be the main character of the story where the artists, students and townspeople who live there play more minor roles through their relationships and life choices. The folklore and legend of the White Witch add to the spiritual quality of the beautiful yet dangerous terrain of the clove where the trees seem to whisper.
Tensions between mothers and daughters, questions of identity and a passion for art provide a common thread between the modern and historic time periods as more of the mystery is revealed leading to a surprising yet satisfying conclusion.
Jeanne M. (Vancouver, WA)
Fairy Tales Can Come True
Reading Arcadia Falls was consuming and rewarding, reminiscent of the magic and witchery in the novels of Alice Hoffman.
In Goodman's latest novel, she deftly weaves a fairy tale into the story of the founders of a school in Arcadia Falls, and the current population at the school.
The fairy tale is also the link between mother and daughter as they become teacher and student at the school. The parallels between the past and present events, leads the reader through the traditional celebrations that are central to the unfolding of the past and present lives.
Goodman's ability to draw the reader into the understanding of the fairy tale as a part of the past, and its relationship to the present, speaks to her gift of story-telling.
I am a member of Bella Voce, a local book club recently instituted in the Portland, OR. Metropolitan Area. (BellaVoce.com)
Eileen P. (Pittsford, NY)
Modern Day Fairytale
Arcadia Falls is an entertaining, easy read. In spots, it is a little too predictable and there are a few too many coincidences. Even so, I think it would be a terrific discussion book as it raises a number of excellent questions about love, loyalty, and how the past can haunt the future.