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Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
Not Quite Ready...
This book could have been fascinating-and some of it is: creating and building a communal life in the sixties, kids of view of that life, some well defined characters. Groff's prose is brilliant in some places yet tedious and mundane in most. The book feels like a first or second draft, especially the first chapters. Recommended only for those who have the stamina to weed through the chaff for the seed.
Annie P. (Murrells Inlet, SC)
Arcadia, by Lauren Groff
When I first began reading this book, my feeling was that the author was spending entirely too much time on the little boy Bit. As I continued to read, it dawned on me that the reason for loitering in his early childhood was to give the reader a feeling of what it was like to live in a commune, the people, the general living conditions, the food, the beliefs and who was in charge of all the decisions, if anyone. Everything in his early childhood gave Bit the outlook on his entire life and how he was able or not to cope with the outside world. His family was first in his life, but he took on many people, relatives by blood or marriage, or Arcadia. This book cleared up a lot of questions of why the true hippies never really assimilated into “society,” at least the kind we take for granted when we haven’t been exposed to a totally different kind of life. The only ones we ever hear of are the addicts and the addled. Very little is told of the people who lived off the fruits of the earth, never ate meat or killed another being, and accepted a very different version of truth and religion, adjusting it to meet their needs. At the end, I loved this book, and wanted it to keep going. I wanted to find out more about Bit and his daughter. I missed Hannah but admired Bit for his devotion. Thank you, Ms. Groff, for a lovely, unusual and fulfilling story. I will look forward to another book in the near future.
Diane D. (Blairstown, NJ)
Fascinating, but disturbing book
I enjoyed the book, which held my interest throughout, but the lifestyle of Arcadia disturbed me, as I thought it would. The characters were very well done, which you don't always find in a book.
Lynn W. (Calabash, NC)
I think this would be a great book for a book club, because there is opportunity for a LOT of discussion! I don't remember reading anything comparable to this one, and I think a lot of people would get a lot out of it.
This is the first book by Lauren Groff that I have read and I will make of point of reading her other works. The story of a 70's commune rang very true to me. She has an assortment of characters and her follow through with all of their stories was well done for the most part. The story is told with vivid, almost poetic descriptions and kept my interest throughout.
Sara S. (Murfreesboro, TN)
I truly loved Laura Groff's Monsters of Templeton, and had hoped that I would have loved Arcadia just as much. I have to say that I found this book really hard to get into. I was really intrigued by the premise, a 1960s hippie commune aiming to build a utopian community, but I found the story to be rather slow and it just did not capture my attention.
John G. (Steilacoom, WA)
It grew on me
"Arcadia" was a bit of a disappointment after "The Monsters of Templeton". It started off very slowly but is well written and the characters very well developed. It definitely "grew on me" and I would recommend it.
Gary R. (bolingbrook, IL)
A lot of Bit of wonderful!
Having read the author's first novel I was looking forward to this and was not disappointed! Just a wonderful read, sucked me in till the last page! The story of a life lived. The joy, wonder, awakening and heartbreak, written in words that made me want to re-read passages over again! Maybe I'm a little biased having grown up in this era, but I've already pre-ordered the hardcover. Have you?
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.