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Sally G. (Saint Johns, FL)
I have been to Arcadia.
Marjorie A. (Gainesville, Florida)
Steping Into Another World
This is one of those rare books in which the writer hypnotizes you.
I had a hard time getting through this book as I could only read a few pages at a time. Not being a physiologist, I can only wonder why. I think it was too rich for my mind to handle in large doses.
The story starts with a hippie commune in Arcadia, New York, built on the idealist premise that all human being are equal with the same work ethic. Then the freeloaders and the king pin (Handy) erode the system.
This story we hear through a sensitive Childs (Bit) brain as a toddler on through the middle age of 55years old and a photographer in the City. We only know what his brain tends to tell and therefore no quotation marks are used.
There is no big “Wow” moment as the story is of ordinary people living their ordinary lives. With a quiet, introspective, telescopic glimpse of Lauren Groff’s characters in the mind of Bit Stone we get to read on that road.
With the writing of Lauren Groff we are transported to the world of beautiful phrases and thoughts.
This book enabled me to enter a world I had imagined for myself but never acted on - living as a hippie on a commune. Life in Arcadia sublime and awful; the characters are multidimensional and believable; and the ending is satisfying leaving me wanting more.
Ann S. (Shenandoah, Iowa)
Worthy of praise
With descriptive passages which are exquisitely written, Groff weaves a tale of idealistic goals and realistic conclusions. The main character, Bit, understands and copes with the culture in Arcadia, but also finds his way, happily or unhappily, to relate to and deal with "outside" society as it evolves and yet maintains his established values.
Having not read Groff's debut novel, I am very happy to have had the opportunity to read this and look forward to reading her earlier work, as well as what follows Arcadia.
I loved this story and grew to love most of the characters. When the book was finished, I felt as though very dear friends had moved far away and that I would miss them greatly. I was moved by the beauty of the prose, often to tears. I will want to read this book again. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys character development and learning about life experienced in circumstances different than those most of us have known.
Lora O. (Antioch, CA)
Arcadia - Best Book read in 2011
This book follows the story of Ridley Stone "Bit", the first child born in Arcadia, a commune founded by his parents and other vividly drawn, quirky, idealists. Bit is one of the most delightful and endearing characters I've ever come across and I enjoyed the journey from the magic of his childhood to his much later life as a father and caring son to his parents. Arcadia was a very flawed and imperfect place despite the efforts of the utopians who created it, but the values Bit grew up with caused him to become an intelligent, gentle, compassionate artist who finds a way to live with grace and sensitivity in a world that becomes increasingly dark, scary and threatening.
Judy K. (Sunland, CA)
Ideals, Love and Sorrow
Lauren Groff's language is beautiful and I found myself underlining sentences and phrases. I was moved by the tragedies and losses but felt uplifted by the kindness and connections of the characters.
I truly enjoyed every minute of this luminous, offbeat and lovely book. If it had been published earlier, it would have been my holiday gift to my closest friends.
Lauren Goff's first novel had plenty of potential but did not live up to my expectations. In Arcadia, she has found her true voice. For me, and possibly anyone involved in hippie culture in the 60s and 70s, this is a moving story. Through Bit, born and raised on a commune, the emotional and developmental results of living outside mainstream American life are brought to full realization.
Lisa B. (Denton, TX)
Community vs. Freedom
I gratefully admired Goff's non-judgemental view. Yes, Bit was damaged in certain ways but he retained the values he was taught. His struggle to assimilate in the "real world" feels very true. Idealism always leads to sorrow but at least it contains ideals. The writing is beautiful, in fact astounding.
I highly enjoyed Arcadia, once I adjusted to the style in which it was written. At first, the use of the present tense made me feel disconnected from the story, but soon I was sucked in and felt that Dicken's Ghost of the Christmas Past had taken me on ride to view the commune and I felt like I was really there, feeling their hope and anticipation for a better future. I also enjoyed the hints at the Utopian ideals and communities of the 19th century, which most people seem to have forgotten.
Nikki M. (Fort Wayne, IN)
Didn't knock my socks off...
Bit's integration into mainstream society was interesting, and a part of the book that I would have liked to know more about. I thought the ending dragged on longer than it needed to be and I had trouble getting through that part.
At the end this book gave me a lot to think about and says quite a bit about modern society. In today's world people have a great deal of freedom, but they have lost the sense of community they once had. I liked the way that Groff had the Amish helping the commune, even though on the surface the Amish were so different, in some ways they had the same objective in the long run.
Having LOVED "The Monsters of Templeton" by Lauren Groff, I was anxious to dive into "Arcadia". I was, unfortunately, underwhelmed. I found the story and characters rather flat and uninteresting. Disappointing....