Bob S. (lawrenceburg, IN)
Our roots, our beginnings and our ends
As a child of the 1960s, I found Lauren Groff's exploration of the journey from Utopian roots to full blossoming and then back to the primal sources both thrilling and enlightening. Young Bit's life begins already intertwined with a living community; as he enters the lives of others both inside and outside that community, he comes to know, as we all eventually know, that the sources of life are also its goals. As in "Monsters of Templeton, " Ms. Groff offers us a doorway, not only into the heart of her protagonist, but also into our own hearts and lives. The allusive title is well chosen: this book is filled with light, harmony, and depth.
Celia A. (Takoma Park, MD)
Wanted to know more
The only character I felt any connection to was Bit. Perhaps that was intentional, but the other characters ran together for me. Also, the different sections were so disconnected, with no real sense of how the characters got from point A to point B to point C. Again, this might be intentional, given this line: "What they found moving, they told him later, were the blanks between the frames, the leaps that happened invisibly between the then and the now." (This refers to portraits in an art exhibit.) I just couldn't get past the fact that I wanted to know more about what was in those blanks.
Patricia F. (Stony Brook, New York)
This type of novel is not one which I usually read. I requested a copy as I was (and am) a huge fan of The Monsters of Templeton. (I have history with that area which may have further endeared me to the story.) Having loved her previous book, I approached Arcadia with great anticipation. The story of Bit and the family in the commune reads as both true and imagined. I found the writing beautiful, unexpected and lyrical. The language paints a picture for the story. I was drawn to Bit, who didn't speak as a young child, was small, and appeared to march to a different drummer.
Among a few concerns with the story, I was less than enthralled by the character of Handy. I felt him to be weak and annoying. He was supposed to be the leader of this commune whose inhabitants were largely left to fend for themselves, and in my opinion, did anything but lead. While the writing was indeed lyrical and poetic, I have to say the lack of quotation marks was problematic for me, as a reader.
An interesting read, but no Monsters of Templeton.
Jeff M. (Morris Plains, NJ)
This book has received very positive pre-publication reviews (e.g., Publishers Weekly) and the subject (60s, etc.) was appealing to me. However, despite really trying, I personally couldn't get into the story nor did the characters particularly interest me. It was a tough read and not a book I would be inclined to recommend.
Helen S. (Palm Desert, CA)
The author used words that opened the mind into creating the location of the story and its characters. Also, brought vividly alive were the conditions of the people and the surrounding areas. The author evolved the story from rebellion to romance. Very believable. Living the words in the book brought back many incidents transpiring across the United States during the time covered.
The romance brought into the novel was ever present and captivating. Very believable. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
Catherine H. (Nashua, NH)
Like a poetry book..
I read Miss Groff “The monsters of Templeton”, book full of promises but missing “something”. “Arcadia” did not disappoint me. The style is poetic but yet easy to read. I wanted Bit’s story to go on. It is a very moving and very sad story, it does not really end with the traditional “and they lived happily ever after” but still with a feeling of hope.
Becky H. (Chicago, IL)
The 60's were better than this book
I really wanted to like this book. I tried very hard to like it. I just couldn't. I didn't like the characters. I didn't like the lack of quotation marks. I didn't like Arcadia house or most of its inhabitants. I found it really irritating that Hannah was depressed (maybe) but you never knew why she acted the way she did. Handy had very few redeeming qualities. Bit was just ...Bit. I detested Helle. The plot wandered so much I lost track of it. The writing DID show that the author knew how to put words together -- often in lyrical and surprising ways. It just wasn't enough to make this a compelling read. I was really hoping for more. I was disappointed. I have a book group with 44 members. I can't think of one of them that would enjoy this book.