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The Monsters of Templeton
 
by
Lauren Groff
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The Monsters of Templeton

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  10,776 ratings  ·  1,933 reviews
On the very morning Willie Upton slinks home to Templeton, New York (after a calamitous affair with her archeology professor), the 50-foot-long body of a monster floats from the depths of the town's lake. This unsettling coincidence sets the stage for one of the most original debut novels since The Time Traveler's Wife. With a clue to the mysterious identity of her father...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Voice (first published January 1st 2008)
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karen
yay!! my suspicions have been confirmed - i am officially not a book snob! i oscillate between thinking i might be a little bit of one, and that any forays i may make into teen fiction or silly bodice rippers that involve byron in some way are just accidents; flaws... on goodreads.com, i feel mostly like the dummy of the bunch, which is a totally comfortable and understandable place for me to be. but then at work, and in my readers advisory class, i feel like the biggest book elitist of all time...more
Chuckell
Does this ever happen to you? When I read something, I generally hear the words pretty much spoken inside my head as I read them. Mostly . . . though sometimes, when I'm reading a truly great book, I start to feel that what I'm hearing inside my skull is more akin to music, almost, like some sort of lovely concerto version of the words on the page.

But then, sometimes, with not-so-great books, what I start to hear after I've been reading for a while is more of an irksome whine or a grating rumbl...more
Libby
Oops, I forgot to add this to "Currently Reading" while I was reading it. That is my fatal Goodreads flaw.

Anyway, I breezed through this book in a couple of days; it is a very quick, smooth read, heavy on plotting, which keeps the pages turning. However, I think its self-seriousness undermines its credibility, oddly. In the end, I found the book awfully pretentious. The pretense in question? Pretending to be "serious literature."

The novel revolves around grad-student-gone-wild Willie Upton, who...more
Eileen
This book has gotten plenty of glowing reviews, most undeserved. Yes, the history-based chapters are vivid and often riveting--I was especially left wanting more of the epistolary psychological thriller involving friends-turned-enemies Cinammon Averell and Charlotte Franklin Temple. Indeed, it might have been wiser for Groff to write a fully historical novel, as her contemporary characters and the contrived, wouldn't-this-make-a-quirky-independent-movie subplots (a conveniently-placed hysterical...more
Peggy
God, sometimes I love my job! I commute two hours to and from work every day, and given current traffic conditions in the Austin area, you can go ahead and add at least another half hour to my drive home. I'll sometimes stop and grab a burger for dinner, going through the drive-through and then sitting in the parking lot to eat. I always have a book in the car, so this gives me a little uninterrupted reading time while I finish my burger.

Most times, this takes 20-30 minutes. But every once in a...more
Lisa
I don't know if I'm going to be able to finish this. The dialog hurts.

Update: I finished it. Learn a lesson from me. Do not make seeing how much more a book can possibly irritate you be your motivation for finishing it. It is not healthy.

See any of the other wonderful one and two star reviews of this book to get an idea of the many ways it which it is bad. What I haven't seen anyone mention is the issue with the name calling. I refer here not only to the fact that characters have names like Re...more
Jamie
I won't lie. I'm reluctant to give this book four stars...but, you see, I have to, because I DID get up early to read it and I did stay up until two a.m. on a weeknight. Heck, if I'm being honest, while I did not stay home specifically FOR finishing this book, it made what would have been a pretty crap day enjoyable.
But still, I'm hesitant to recommend it. I have this suspicion most of my friends wouldn't get through it. It was, at different points, many things: novice, tricky to follow, going,...more
Sean
I had fairly high hopes for this being a fun, quality read. Nuh-uh. It has more than a slight whiff of 'chick lit fluff' about it unfortunately. While her descriptions have visual flair, the overall tone of this novel is cutesy and contrived. The multiple narrative perspectives seem forced, with several just feeling like tacked-on filler (ex: the running group. hello/why?) The main character is ultimately confronted (gently, of course!) as being the self-absorbed, spoiled brat/snob that she clea...more
oriana
Oct 08, 2013 oriana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to oriana by: karen
Shelves: read-2010
IDK if i would have ever picked this up, but Karen is a very persuasive bookdate.

And I'm so glad! This book is really lovely. Sensual, lush language; well-developed, totally relatable characters; a plot that is exciting and challenging, and on and on.

As always, the fact that I am a quick and uncareful reader prevented me from really following all the historical personages and twisty intrigue, and I probably missed a few "Aha!" moments, but that didn't stop me from loving being along for the ri...more
Jeanette (Most of My Favorite Authors Are Dead)
You wouldn't know it unless she told you, but this is Lauren Groff's wacky love letter to Cooperstown, NY, where she grew up. If you really want to enjoy this book, it's best to relax and just accept it all in a spirit of playfulness. It's a wild and goofy collage full of secrets and pretend secrets and mostly benign 'monsters' and ghosts.

Willie Upton returns home to Templeton after a doomed relationship goes awry. After she settles in, her mother Vivienne tells her that the story she's always...more
Eva
Maybe it helps to read mediocre books so you truly appreciate a good book when it crosses your path. 1 star=unreadable, 2 stars=sorry to have wasted the time but did actually finish it, 3 stars is a notch above that and hey, that's not bad for a first-time author.

My complaints include: a plot that is driven by an only mildly compelling question, tons of subplots that have nothing to do with the main question and are boring distractions, poorly written fictional historical documents....I got the...more
Maggie
Wilhelmina ("Willie") Upton - a promising graduate student at Standford University - has fled back to her small, historic hometown of Templeton, New York "steeped in disgrace." The affair with her married grad school mentor has been found out, and, now pregnant with his illegitimate child, she hopes to find solace in her mother, Vivian ("Vi") Upton - a woman whose footsteps Willie has unwittingly fallen into. Herself a child of the free-loving 1960s, Vi had always told Willie that she is the pro...more
Forrest
About my relationship with The Monsters of Templeton . . . it's complicated.

Before we met, I had heard a wide range of opinions about the book. Now, my tastes lean toward the obscure. I don't tend to read the popular ones and I have a bit of prejudice toward them. "If it's that popular, it can't be that good," I will sometimes (mistakenly) reason. And this book, well, this book had gotten around. The town of Goodreads had been gossiping about this one for a while, with opinions ranging from "it...more
Trin
Willie Upton returns in disgrace to her hometown of Templeton, New York (a very thinly disguised Cooperstown) and starts trying to unravel a family mystery that, seeing as Willie is a descendant of Marmaduke Temple, the founder of the town, is intimately intertwined with the history of the entire community.

I really thought I was going to like this book. History and mystery and research! Weird, magical realism touches like the discovery of a monster in the lake! Multiple points of view, including...more
Ben Babcock
First I read this book with curiosity and, I confess, not a little scepticism. Then I read this book with pleasure and even, perhaps, morbid anticipation. Finally, as I turned the last few pages and the book spoke to me of endings and new beginnings, I read this book with appreciation and wonder.

The Monsters of Templeton begins in a distracted, almost haphazard fashion, introducing the tangential plot of the lake monster's death even as we meet the protagonist, Wilhelmina "Wille" Upton. It took...more
Miriam
Jun 27, 2008 Miriam rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: People who enjoy the sordid dysfunctional family dramas
I requested this book from the library loan service because it had a promising title and a cover reminiscent of a couple other recent books that I'd liked. The Sonoma County library system does not give one much by way of useful information such as a summery, cover blurb, genre, etc. As it turned out, this story as far as I read focused on dysfunctional families, unwanted pregnancy, and claustrophobic small towns, three tropes which I almost never enjoy. So back to the library it goes! There was...more
Jennifer
Mar 12, 2008 Jennifer rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone who has returned to their hometown
Recommended to Jennifer by: Entertainment Weekly (& Borders)
"The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass." A great opening line for an interesting book, a love letter to a town in New York that curiously resembles Cooperstown.

The story begins as Willie (Wilhemina) Upton returns home with her tail between her legs and a fetus in her belly. She is running from a disasterous affair with her graduate school professor and dissertation advisor (one that starts on an archeological dig in...more
Benjamin
My first impressions of this book were very mixed. Initially, I enjoyed the narrative, but I found the dialogue very amateur. That is, every time a character spoke, it just sounded somewhat ... I don't know, written? Quickly enough, however, even the narrative seemed relatively ho-hum. It's clear that the writer is trying to sound like a good writer, and sadly the effort is too often apparent, which gives the book a forced feel. Adding to the somewhat immature tone of the book is the main charac...more
L
I had great fun with this book and I'm not really sure why. There is a bit of a mystery here . . . who really did impregnate Willie's mother? . . . but that's not the point.

There is also a real, traditional "sea" monster in the lake, though the role this creature plays in the novel is hard to pinpoint, more symbolic than factual, if you will. There are murder, mayhem, and scum-bags aplenty, as well. What's not to like?

But at heart this is mainstream fiction, a story about a mother and daughter,...more
Kelly
Yes, I have rather brilliantly read this several months before its February 2008 release date. Well, not really that brilliantly, some email advance readers club invite from Barnes & Noble appeared in my inbox so I signed up.

I wasn't expecting to be overly impressed with this book -- I had no idea what it was about, but it was free, so I had to read it. It's basically a hyped-up mythology of Cooperstown, of baseball and James Fenimore fame. I don't know much about JFC other than a few charac...more
Mike
May 01, 2008 Mike rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who like funny names. I mean you, Dr. Jingles!
"Read" isn't fair. And neither is my reason for giving up so quickly. But I winced when I hit a woman named Piddles (Sweeney, I think), and the appearance of Zeke Felcher sealed the deal. As my old, venerated writing instructor Fister McBunghole used to say, it is very, very hard to write funny or silly names.

I was already getting a case of fatal whimsy. So now you have a choice: trust me or Stephen King, or (one of) the Michelle(s) on this site who wrote a fine, generous, thoughtful review bel...more
Erica
Awww!
This book totally makes me squeal (in my mind, so as not to disturb those around me), "Awww!" Like the Portlandia dumpster diver. I can't find a Portlandia Aww meme and am too lazy to make my own, so just imagine it here and move along.

Here are the things that just tickled me pink (I'm already pink, though)(well, kind of an olive pink, so...pinive. I'm pinive)(no, not oink. Don't even)
-The mayor sports ornamental canes and too-short shorts! Bwahahaha! Such perfect small-town imagery, it cra...more
Mary Crabtree
Ugh...This was a struggle to get through and I really tried to give Groff a chance. I like family sagas and historical fiction but for me I have to be rewarded with characters (at least one or two) that bond me with the process of keeping track of family trees, scandals and secrets that almost always go with the territory. The "Monsters of Templeton" is definitely not a "Gone with the Wind" or "The Thorn Birds" variety of family saga. You might want to throw in a smidgeon of the weirdness of "Ge...more
Rita
I started this book twice and just couldn't get into it either time. The first time was ON vacation and I figured there was just so much going on in my real life that I couldn't be sucked into the plot of this book.

The second time was right after I finished reading The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which isn't really fair because anything would pale in comparison to that.

But, while Oscar Wao was a book about tragic characters chained to their ancestral past, which branched out in snarly directions...more
Kendra
Somehow, Lauren Groff managed to make this book both very complex and very enjoyable. Groff, a native of Cooperstown, NY, borrowed a handful of characters from James Fenimore Cooper and used Templeton, his fictionalized Cooperstown, as the backdrop for her story. The main character is Willie Upton, who returns to her hometown of Templeton after an affair with one of her professors ends very badly. Upon returning, two events have a major impact on Willie: 1) The corpse of a monster surfaces in Te...more
GoldGato
This was a strange duck of a read. Using the factual history of the real Cooperstown in New York, Lauren Groff weaves a tale of personal ghosts, lonely lake monsters, and hippie fantasies to bring an imaginative spin to the fantasy world of the town of Templeton.

I enjoyed the ride, as she gets the reader involved quickly with the introduction of Glimmey the Monster, who comes across as a shy creature from Lake Glimmerglass. She includes old photos and portraits to illustrate the heroine's ancest...more
Holbrook
A lot of fun if a bit amateurly written. I'm beginning to realize you can hide a lot of novice prose by putting the story in the first person. Is it the author or the character making lame philosophical statements? Blame the character, spare the author. I felt that way about Special Topics In Calamaty Physics too.
Monsters had a nice historical research/uncovering secrets thing going on which I always enjoy (think Possession but not as good, of course).
Anyway, congratulations to a new author wh...more
rachel
This book has everything I like in a book, including half wacky/half practical characters, the unearthing of an expansive, scandalous family history (told in the voices of those family members and Groff made an effort for them to actually sound different too!), enough mystery/intrigue to make it unputdownable, and a sea monster with a Puff the Magic Dragon-like affinity for people. Puff the Magic Dragon makes me cry, thus the ending of this almost did too. Or maybe that's hysterical pregnancy ho...more
Laren
This was an unusual book (at least for my reading habits). An archeological student has an affair with her professor, gets pregnant, tries to kill the professor's wife with a car, and then returns home to Templeton to hide on the same day that the legendary monster from the lake washes up on shore, deceased. Her mother then tells her that her birth father is actually someone in Templeton, not an unknown person in a commune far away as she had always thought. So she embarks on the project of rese...more
Heather
Oct 01, 2009 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who like stories
Shelves: owned
I got this book as an advanced read copy from a big box book chain ages ago, so forgive me if I've missed some of the smaller details. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've noticed some of the other reviewers giving this book one and two stars because it's "fluff". Why on Earth does a book have to be dense and dreary to be good? What ever happened to the story telling aspect of books? Isn't that the point of a good book, that you learn something (either about the world, or yourself), enjoy what y...more
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Lauren Groff was born in 1978 in Cooperstown, N.Y., and grew up one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Points as well as in the anthologies...more
More about Lauren Groff...
Arcadia Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories The Masters Review: 2012 The Best American Short Stories 2010 (The Best American Series (R)) The Monster's Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes

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“When I was small and easily wounded books were my carapace. If I were recalled to my hurts in the middle of a book they somehow mattered less. My corporeal life was slight the dazzling one in my head was what really mattered. Returning to books was coming home.” 24 likes
“Amor animi arbitrio sumitu, non ponitur; we choose to love; we do not choose to cease loving.” 9 likes
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