Arcadia Falls: Book summary and reviews of Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman

Arcadia Falls

by Carol Goodman

Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman X
Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2010
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

There once was a girl who liked to pretend she was lost ...

Meg Rosenthal is driving toward the next chapter in her life. Winding along a wooded roadway, her car moves through a dense forest setting not unlike one in the bedtime stories Meg used to read to her daughter, Sally. But the girl riding beside Meg is a teenager now, and has exchanged the land of make-believe for an iPod and some personal space. Too much space, it seems, as the chasm between them has grown since the sudden, unexpected death of Meg's husband.

Dire financial straits and a desire for a fresh start take Meg and Sally from a comfortable life on Long Island to a tucked-away hamlet in upstate New York: Arcadia Falls, where Meg has accepted a teaching position at a boarding school. The creaky, neglected cottage Meg and Sally are to call home feels like an ill portent of things to come, but Meg is determined to make the best of it—and to make a good impression on the school's dean, the diminutive, elegant Ivy St. Clare.

St. Claire, however, is distracted by a shocking crisis: During Arcadia’s First Night bonfire, one of Meg’s folklore students, Isabel Cheney, plunges to her death in a campus gorge. Sheriff Callum Reade finds Isabel’s death suspicious, but then, he is a man with secrets and a dark past himself.

Meg is unnerved by Reade's interest in the girl's death, and as long-buried secrets emerge, she must face down her own demons and the danger threatening to envelop Sally. As the past clings tight to the present, the shadows, as if in a terrifying fairy tale, grow longer and deadlier.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[H]er storytelling is as solid as ever, and the book is reliably entertaining. " - Publishers Weekly

"Goodman combines gripping suspense with strong characters and artistic themes. Those who read Anita Shreve or Jodi Picoult are likely to become fans." - Library Journal

"Passably engaging, principally for its meditations on the ever-shifting challenges facing women artists." - Kirkus Reviews

"Carol Goodman’s luminous prose and superb storytelling will keep you entertained into the late hours." - Nancy Pickard

"[An] atmospheric and magical book.... I’m certain it will be among my favorites for 2010." - January Magazine

This information about Arcadia Falls shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Kristen H. (Lowell, MA)

Secrets of the Past Haunt the Present
"Arcadia Falls" is an amazing story that explores the idea that the past can hold secrets that affect those in the present day when discovered in many different ways. The strong characters and strong plot kept me from wanting to put it down even to sleep. I will be on the lookout for more books from Carol Goodman when I visit my library.

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.

Patricia S. (Chicago, IL)

Arcadia Falls
I have been a huge fan of Carol Goodman since discovering her a couple of years ago and eagerly awaited her newest book. I was not disappointed. In Arcadia Falls, Goodman returns to upstate New York, at a private art school in the hills, and literature teacher Meg Rosenthal. The art school has been the scene of one tragic death in the steep valley adjoining the campus and almost as soon as Meg arrives, another death occurs in a fall from the same ridge. Were they both accidental? The suspense grows until the frightening ending, and in true Goodman style, things were never what they seemed. Goodman's wonderful language fills the book, bringing to life the woods turning to winter, the main street of a small arts town, and the teenage students. Although the revelation of identities and relations at the end of the book seemed rushed and not quite true to the story, I would still give this book a top rating.

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.

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)

Sarah Kary

Most wonderful fairy tale inside of a great story
I actually listened to this book from Audible.com. I drive for a living and am constantly listening to books. This one was a definate winner. I enjoyed every part of the story. Goodman do a good job with every aspect of the story. I was creeped out,I giggled, I was sad, ..ya know, all the right feelings at the times she wanted me to feel them. The fairy tale that's wrapped up inside the story, however, was the icing on the literay cake. I actually told it to my daughter, and it's her favorite bedtime story & she always wants me to tell it whenever we have time. Its a mystery with a feel of old secrets and the stories and legends of the setting add a magical feeling. I am going to listen to this again for sure!

...15 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Carol Goodman Author Biography

I started writing at age nine, when my teacher introduced the topic 'Creative Writing' and I wrote a ninety-page, crayon-illustrated collection entitled The Adventures of the Magical Herd in which a girl named Carol lives with a herd of magical horses. I knew from that moment I wanted to be a writer and that I'd always find a way to rewrite my own life.

During my teens I wrote poetry and was awarded the Young Poet of Long Island award. I took a break from writing to major in Latin at Vassar College, where I fell in love with language and the Hudson Valley, two themes that would reappear in my first published novel, the bestselling and critically acclaimed novel, The Lake of Dead Languages (Ballantine, 2001). The novel is about a Latin teacher who returns to a girls' school in the ...

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