Sandra Grauschopf's Reviews > The Monsters of Templeton

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
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's review
Sep 18, 2010

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bookshelves: read-in-2010
Read from September 14 to 18, 2010

Like her mother, Willie Upton escaped Templeton, the small New York town that her ancestor founded, for the glamor of the big city - San Francisco, California. And like her mother, Willie returns in disgrace, pregnant with her married teacher's child.

On the day that she returns, dark secrets start to come to the surface in Templeton. For one thing, the rumors of a monster in the Templeton lake are proven true, when the monster's body surfaces on the lake, intriguing the scientific community but devastating the townspeople, who loved their monster.

But secrets also surface in Willie's life, when her mother reveals that her father was not a hippie from the commune in San Francisco that she lived in as a runaway teen, but rather a man living right in Templeton.

Willie focuses her anger and confusion over her own pregnancy into discovering who her father is, from the one hint her mother agreed to share - the mystery father is also related to Marmaduke Temple, the founder of Templeton.

As she digs into her own history, Willie uncovers tales of murder, lust, witchcraft and betrayal. Will the mysteries from the past help Willie resolve her own troubled life?

I loved the premise of the story, but somehow the execution seemed muddled. There were moments of absolutely beautiful writing, but sometimes the narrative wanders. There are entire chapters from viewpoints of long-dead people, some of which are told through letters or historical documents, but others which have no explanation for how Willie could possibly know what her ancestors thought.

There is magic in the story, too, but it seems pretty extraneous instead of fitting seamlessly with the story.

So I didn't love the book quite as much as I thought I should. Nevertheless, it's a good read.

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