Rated of 5
by Diane L. (NY, NY) A Literary Mystery
Author Carol Goodman sets her literary mystery Arcadia Falls in Hudson Valley area of upstate New York. My husband's family lives there, so I found the setting of interest and got a better feel for the area. It is set in winter, and the reader can feel the chill of a Hudson Valley winter.
The protagonist is unique - a folklore teacher, studying two authors who wrote fairy tales while living in an artists' colony they founded in the Hudson Valley. The relationship between the recently widowed teacher and her teenage daughter was insightful and realistic.
Casual mystery readers should be able to guess the identity of the killer midway through the story, although the motive behind the murder seemed a little unsatisfying.
The novel did make me more curious as to the story of the fairy tale artists; perhaps Goodman will expand upon those characters featuring their story in a future novel.
Rated of 5
by Doreen L. (Windsor, CT) Arcadia Falls: More Than a Fairy Tale Mystery
This is a wonderful book. Moreover, it can be read on various levels--as a fairytale within a fairytale, a gothic mystery with many twists and turns, a literary novel, a psychological study, a cultural discourse regarding women having to choose between career and family, or as a perspective on the development of an artist. Yet, the novel also depicts a landscape and atmosphere which suggest a primeval presence that resonate in our psyches. In all, Ms Goodman uses her knowledge of mythology, folklore, and fairytales to weave a very satisfying novel that is superbly written.
Rated of 5
by Patty S. (Baltimore, MD) I Expected More
One of the first things I noticed about Arcadia Falls was the prose. It is one of Goodman’s strong points. It wasn’t enough, however, to keep me interested for more than a chapter or two at a time. The story, set in the Catskills, is of Meg Rothstein and her daughter, Sally, who journey from their upscale Great Neck, NY home to a musty cottage owned by the private boarding school where Meg will teach English after husband and father, Jude, dies and leaves them with nothing more than memories and a great deal of debt.
The twists and turns this work takes seem convoluted to me. It could have ended with the first big revelation, but it didn’t and I soon became bored enough to think, “okay, now what?” It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to the end of a book and, aloud, said, “Oh, please.” I won’t be recommending this one. Loved the prose, didn’t love the story.
Rated of 5
by Debbie (Jupiter, FL) Arcadia Falls
I think that Ms. Goodman did a nice job with character development and maintaining the "gothic" feel to the story. However I felt that the sections which focused on Lily's diary were too long and took away from the smooth flow of the story as well as the feeling of suspense. I also think that while the plot twists were good - there was one too many - making the ending feel a bit contrived and too convenient. I would probably recommend it to book clubs more for a good discussion of some of the themes/symbolism threaded throughout the story - i.e. beech tree, forest, mother/daughter themes,etc.
Rated of 5
by Phyllis R. (East New Market, MD) Stories Within a Story
Having read most of Carol Goodman's novels, I looked forward to Arcadia Falls. It resembles her other novels in its setting in upstate New York in the closed society of a remote boarding school. The writing is beautiful and incorporates classical references. Meg Rosenthal and her daughter relocate there after being left almost destitute by her husband's death. The setting is beautifully described, but the atmosphere is sinister. The menace is encouraged by the Pagan ceremonies the school celebrates, the strange behavior of some students, and by the unsolved deaths associated with the school.
The story holds one's interest and incorporates fairy tales, some written by one of the school's founders. I found this thread interesting since I have done some research on fairy tale motifs in fiction. The love interest is not believably developed, but seems inevitable.
Meg attempts to solve the mysteries associated with the school while improving her relationship with her daughter, which presents more problems than the former. In the end, all secrets and relationships are revealed, some rather hurriedly.
A good read, but not her best.
Rated of 5
by Sharon B. (Rome, GA) Arcadia Falls Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman is a good mystery set at a remote and unusual boarding school. The plot grabs the reader and moves fast enough to keep the pages turning. It’s a good vacation read and the fairy tale element could make for good discussions in book clubs. I enjoyed the book so much that I have read another book by Goodman – The Lake of Dead Languages.
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