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The Monsters of Templeton

A Novel

by Lauren Groff

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff X
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2008, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2008, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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Ladyslott

Monsters Are Often next Door
This book is hard to categorize, part fiction, mystery and fantasy.

Willie (Wilhelmina) Upton has returned to her hometown of Templeton NY. She has left school at Stanford in disgrace and hopes to hide away in the town that her family has lived in for generations. On the day she arrives an enormous monster dies and rises to the surface of Lake Glimmerglass. Not knowing what to expect when she finally goes home to her mother she is shocked when Vi informs Willie that she lied about her father being a one night stand and that her true father lives in Templeton. So Willie sets out to find the truth about her father and along the way uncovers many family secrets and a few other ‘monsters’.

I really, really liked this book. I loved the plot, the delving into the past, hearing the story in many different voices. I love the magic and supernatural embellishments; they added another fun layer to the story. There is more than one monster in this tale and it was so well done and enjoyable I was sorry to see it end; I have so many questions about so many of the characters I am longing for a sequel!!!
Judy Krueger

Disappointed in Templeton
I wish I could say that I loved this book, but I didn't. I was looking forward to it with high expectations because I had read a story by the author in the 2007 Best American Short Stories which just took my breath away.

I think this is an ambitious novel with plenty of elements that I usually like: a young woman who is quirky and intelligent, plenty of history, a family tree which figures in the story and a bit of the supernatural. But I found it hard to follow, which is saying a lot, because I can follow even the most convoluted novels. I just could not completely believe Willie Upton, the twenty-something heroine and I could not get a grasp of her mother, Vi, in such a way as to feel involved with either one.

Willie has gotten herself into a jam and come home from an archeology dig that would have figured in her graduate thesis. She feels she has totally blown it and that her life is ruined. For such an independent and intelligent young woman, she spends the whole book being nasty to the mother she came home to for shelter and being about as silly emotionally as any chick lit heroine. It didn't seem to fit together right.

Getting through the novel was an effort, took way too long for a mere 361 pages and while the reader is supposed to feel that Willie changed and grew, I didn't. However, due to the story that introduced me to Lauren Groff and to the large amount of potential I see in the novel, I will certainly read the next one she writes.
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