In the fields of western New York State in the 1970s, a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what would become a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this rollicking, tragic dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and beyond. What unfolds is an astonishingly beautiful novel about happiness and the impossible dream of perfection.
Arcadia's inhabitants include Handy, a musician and the group's charismatic leader; Astrid, a midwife; Abe, a master carpenter; Hannah, a baker and historian; and Abe and Hannah's only child, the book's protagonist, known as Bit, who is born soon after the commune is created.
While Arcadia rises and falls, Bit, too, ages and changes. If he remains in love with the peaceful agrarian life in Arcadia and deeply attached to its residents, including Handy and Astrid's lithe and deeply troubled daughter Helle, how can Bit become his own man? How does he, a sensitive person, make his way through life and through the world outside of Arcadia where he must eventually live?
With Arcadia, her first novel since her lauded debut, The Monsters of Templeton, Lauren Groff establishes herself not only as one of the most gifted young fiction writers at work today but also as one of our most accomplished literary artists.
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"Starred Review. The effective juxtaposition of past and future and Groff's beautiful prose make this an unforgettable read." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. A novel of 'the invisible tissue of civilization,' of 'community or freedom,' and of the precious fragility of lives in the balance." - Kirkus Reviews
"Richly peopled and ambitious and oh, so lovely, Lauren Groff's Arcadia is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I've read in a long time. It's not possible to write any better without showing off." - Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic and Empire Falls
"Part Stone Diaries, part Lord of the Flies, part something out of a Shakespearean tragedy, Lauren Groff's Arcadia is so uniquely absorbing that you finish it as if waking from a dream. Groff is one of our most talented writers, and Arcadia one of the most revelatory, magical, and ambitious novels I've read in years." - Kate Walbert, author of the New York Times bestselling novel A Short History of Women
"Arcadia feels true, as do the characters who populate this extraordinary novel, which lingers on passing moments in time and highlights the importance of place in preserving not only our memories, but also ourselves." - Hannah Tinti, author of the bestselling and award-winning novel The Good Thief
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Lauren Groff is the author of the novel The Monsters of Templeton, shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, Delicate Edible Birds, a collection of stories, and Arcadia, a New York Times Notable Book, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and finalist for the L.A. Times Book Award.
Her third novel, Fates and Furies, came out in September 2015.
Her work has appeared in journals including the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Tin House, One Story, McSweeney's, and Ploughshares, and in the anthologies 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and three editions of the Best American Short Stories.
She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and two sons.
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