Buy this book at
To Past Reviews Index
Back to Last Page

The Monsters of Templeton

Lauren Groff

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Windmill Books

Published : 2009

Copyright : Lauren Groff 2009

ISBN-10 : PB 0-09-951572-5
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-09-951572-2

Publisher's Write-Up

Willie Cooper arrives on the doorstep of her ancestral home in Templeton, New York in the wake of a disastrous affair with her much older, married archaeology professor. That same day, the discovery of a prehistoric monster in the lake brings a media frenzy to the quiet, picture-perfect town her ancestors founded. Smarting from a broken heart, Willie then learns that the story her mother had always told her about her father has all been a lie. He wasn't the one - night stand Vi had led her to imagine, but someone else entirely. As Willie puts her archaeological skills to work digging for the truth about her lineage, a chorus of voices from the town's past rise up around her to tell their sides of the story. Dark secrets come to light, past and present blur, old mysteries are finally put to rest, and the surprising truth about more than one monster is revealed.

Column Ends


Reader Reviews

Why not Submit a Review your own Review for this book?

Review by Mary Woo (301109) Rating (8/10)

Review by Mary Woo
Rating 8/10
What Lauren Groff's Monsters of Templeton achieves is entirely impressive on its own, but even more so when you consider that it is her first novel. It has all the workings of a first novel: a palpable love of her characters and setting, a certain verve that shines through her prose, and an ambitious plot that can at times become a bit overburdened by what is clearly Groff's enthusiasm for her subject. It quickly becomes clear that the 'monster' of Templeton does not simply refer to the 50-foot creature that is dredged up from the lake in the first paragraph of the novel. Templeton has its own skeletons in the closet.

The central character, Willie Upton, returns to Templeton to live with her mother after a messy affair with her professor ends on a dramatic note. Willie has never known her real father, and because of her mother's hippie, free love past, her mother has always claimed to not know either. But, as it turns out, her mother does in fact know who Willie's father is and presents Willie with the task of discovering for herself, thus leading into the researching of Templeton's genealogy. It may sound a little contrived, but Groff has already established on the first page that this is a whimsical world.

The novel does become a little convoluted with subplots and extraneous characters, and yet they never distract from the strong narrative voice of Willie. These subplots, a best friend with lupus, a burgeoning romance with an old high school townie, an alleged miscarriage, a pack of men who run around town and narrate their sections in a collective 'we', are all real enough to add to, rather than take away from, Willie's world.

It may be slow to get into. Keep going though. Groff's strength is her control and understanding of the narrator, which allows her to delve into the voice and minds of other characters, including Temple himself, a former slave who provides a clue to Willie's heritage, and two strange and potentially dangerous women whose letters reveal a sinister history to Templeton. Ultimately, it is the joyous and beautiful prose that carries the novel through to its last scene.
Mary Woo (30th November 2009)

Back to Top of Page
Column Ends