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The Wonder Garden

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,746 ratings  ·  327 reviews
John likes to arrive first. He enjoys standing quietly with a house before his clients arrive, and today, although he feels pinned beneath an invisible weight, he resolves to savor this solitary moment. It’s one of those overhauled ranches so common to Old Cranbury these days, swollen and dressed to resemble a colonial. White, of course, with ornamental shutters and lat ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Grove Press
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Cindy I believe this is excellent for any book club. Even if the members have a fairly conservative leaning, there is nothing risqué or outlandish in the st…moreI believe this is excellent for any book club. Even if the members have a fairly conservative leaning, there is nothing risqué or outlandish in the story lines that would offend even the most conservative reader. Even if one or two of the dozen stories does not appeal to them, many of the other stories would. Each story is fairly short, so no one would be too upset even if they didn't particularly like one or two of them.(less)

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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  1,746 ratings  ·  327 reviews


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Elyse  Walters
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
$1.99 kindle download today... if you missed it.... this is a great price. One of the most unique and enjoyable inter-connecting storytelling books -
You can tell I loved it- yes? Lol
Hope others do too !

Old review:

The STRONGEST 5 stars of 5 STARS*****

OH MY FRICKIN GOD .....THIS BOOK is UNBELIEVABLY BRILLIANT!!! If I read no other book this year --If this book won BEST BOOK of the year --ALL would be GROOVY in "My Wonder Land". I just died-and-went to heaven discovering this 'short-story-novel'
...more
Will Byrnes
As they approach the gate Bethany thinks of the town, small and safe, awaiting their return. It is cloistered, claustrophobically familiar, but maybe—and her mother’s trembling hands return to her—mired with its own dark disturbances. It is its own kind of restive campground, in a way, its properties penciled upon common land, impinging on one another despite the fences meant to hold them apart. Huddled in that encampment are each of their families, steely cohorts within the greater clan.
Ol
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Iris P
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Iris P by: Elyse Waters

Just a quick update, not sure if it's a temporary price, but if you are interested the Kindle version of this book is only $2.99, great deal!!

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The Wonder Garden

Lauren Acampora photo Lauren_zpsizgzq52g.jpg
Lauren Acampora, the author

"They'd come as a pair of anthropologists to masquerade among the natives, or so Mark had thought, to mirror their culture and borrow from its abundance.They were not supposed to adopt it, they were not supposed to blend."

From T
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Diane S ☔
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful collection of connected stories. As a child in Chicago, I remember walking past houses on my block, and making up stories with my friends about what was happening in those houses. This is what these stories are, a personal glimpse behind doors of the people who live on Old Cranbury road. So very interesting because some of the characters,receive multiple points of view, so in some of the stories we see what people think of a certain family and then we are treated to a glimpse of ...more
Jenna
Apologies to any Goodreads friends or others whose superlative reviews I may have doubted: you are all correct that this unassuming-looking little book really is That Good!

Masterful and nearly flawless, both in each story and as a whole! Acampora's prose is so confident and sure that it's nearly impossible to fathom that this is her first book - and I say this even having recently read many other excellent debut works. Acampora writes like she came into this earth doing it already.

Usually, when
...more
Julie Christine
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fresh off reading Anthony Marra's brilliant The Tsar of Love and Techno, I jumped into another collection of interrelated short stories, connected by place and characters. Coincidence? Or is this a thing now? Reckon it doesn't much matter if the thing is done well.

The Wonder Garden invites inevitable comparisons to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge because of the New England setting, and of course the interwoven short stories, but the similarities end there. Strout's connective tissue was Oli
...more
Andrew Smith
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
More than a collection of short stories, but not quite a novel. This book is really a series of episodes about a group of people who live in an upper-middle-class town called Old Cranbury, in New England.

It’s difficult to pigeon hole this disparate group of tales. They all focus on different characters, but old faces and connections crop up and by the end I felt I had a pretty good grasp of the inhabitants of this rather posh town. But the overall mood is a uniting force too - to me there was so
...more
Dianne
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2015
Really, really well-done collection of interrelated short stories about the inhabitants of Old Cranbury, Connecticut. The writing is superlative and Acampora has a keen eye. Very interesting - the only challenge for me was trying to keep track of all the characters and figure out how/where they fit into the overall picture.

Highly recommend.
Cathrine ☯️
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5★

Unnerving, disturbing, bizarre, quirky, and just brilliant short stories. I know, you are not a fan of them. This collection could change that.

It reads like a novel. All these houses and their peeps in the same community whose stories sometimes connect and overlap. This book acts like a nanny-cam bringing to life Thoreau’s quote “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Not to mention some of them are just plain twisted. I started this thinking I would read these stories now and th
...more
Diane Barnes
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every single one of these stories was an absolute jewel. When you add to that the fact that the same characters walk through the pages of each one, giving us a view of "behind closed doors", and what people do and say in public versus their private thoughts, that gets 5 stars in my book. I loved it from start to finish. Think "Olive Kitteridge", but with a neighborhood being the common denominator instead of one person.
I will never look at my neighbors again without wondering what is really happ
...more
Lisa
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The Wonder Garden is a superb collection of stories about the undercurrents of suburban life. From a distance, the view of the small Connecticut town Acampora writes about is pristine. The lawns and people are manicured - a homogenous world of privilege and self-satisfaction. But Acampora brings us right up close and unpeels the veneer to expose the craziness and darkness underneath. The cover of my edition shows two homes - one flying up in the air about to crash and the other off kilter, half ...more
Larry H
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Driving through a neighborhood, looking at the houses you pass by, do you ever stop and wonder about the lives of those who live there? Looking from the outside in, we never know about the problems people face, whether their lives are mundane or full of excitement and tension, what their desires and regrets are, and what drives them forward.

Lauren Acampora's intriguing, well-written collect
...more
Lori
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Love this book. Lauren Acompora, in creating the wealthy Connecticut suburb of Old Cranbury, putting faces on its houses and breathing life into their occupants, has presented us with a bit of literary magic. I'm not much for short stories because I find so many inscrutable or pointless or both, but these were crisp and clear, unique and sometimes, and those were the best times, really weird. Characters that seem black and white when we first meet them are colored in in subsequent stories. Quest ...more
Veronica
May 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I think the author is a better writer than she is storyteller. Because she IS a good writer and for most part the stories held my attention, but in the end there was no point. Because one pays attention to a story to find out what is going to happen, because you want to know what is going to happen. But these stories are more like character studies than actual stories. You never find out what happens because they just end before any sort of resolution occurs. Some of them jump around in time, bu ...more
Cher
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars - It was really good.

Short story collections are not a favorite of mine, but this is one of the more satisfying ones that I have read. Most of the stories are loosely focused around real estate in one way or another with small connections between characters in different stories. Being in the process of moving with real estate transactions, it was easy to become engaged with most of the stories.
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Favorite Quote: Perhaps it is understandable that
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Jen
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
This collection of short stories probably deserves more than 2 stars based on the author's beautiful way with words, but I just cannot bring myself to award them. I always talk myself into reading short story collections and am invevitably disappointed. They are more character studies than actual stories...just short slices of different lives. Beautifully written, but ultimately unsatisfying.

This collection can be summed up with the famous Henry David Thoreau quote: "Most men lead lives of quiet
...more
Leslie Lindsay
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh. My. Gosh. I loved this book. You know that period when you are in book limbo, when nothing else even compares in breadth and depth to what you just read, when the words of everything else you pick up just sound as if they are gobbedly-gook, well...that's how I feel after reading THE WONDER GARDEN.

Technically considered a "novel in short stories," and if we're splitting hairs here, I'd say that's exaclty what a novel is, but on a greater scale; this one just perfectly aligned everything...an
...more
Lynne
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I want to read this book again... And maybe even a third time! There are so very many thought provoking themes and connections. It's an excellent book to exercise your memory. Every well-conceived short story is tied to the other. The reader anticipates the connection at the start of each new chapter! Thank you for an amazing read! And thanks to NetGalley for the advanced read from the publisher. ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
My Review: I am, admittedly, not an avid reader of short stories. In fact, this is only the second time I've read a book of short stories - yes, I am a relative newbie to the genre. The previous book of short stories that I read didn't get me too eager to jump on the ol' bandwagon again. I found that I wanted to know more about the characters and was left hanging when they ended. Thankfully, Acampora is a breath of fresh air and has reignited my desire to read more in this genre.

Acampora's debut
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Barbara
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Another fabulous novel of short stories! I am not a fan of short stories, and chose this novel based on the high reviews of several GR friends. I’m glad their reviews caught my eye. Although it’s billed as a short story novel, many of the characters, and their houses, are woven into other stories. If you’ve ever been curious about your town, and wondered what each families/houses “stories” are, this is a great novel for you.

The town setting is Old Cranbury in Connecticut. Author Lauren Acampora
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Staci
Holy darkness in suburbia! It’s a little bit frightening to recognize how little you inevitably know about your community, about your neighbors, even about the family under your own roof. None of the characters in any of these stories are very likable but they are all very well developed and at the end of each story I found myself disappointed that their time on stage was over. Many of the characters make repeat appearances in each of the stories, often going from main character in one story to ...more
Karen Germain
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Has a book ever called to you? When I browse at bookstores, there are far more books that I want, than I can actually buy, so I keep a list on my iPhone of the ones that catch my interest. Lauren Acampora's short story collection, The Wonder Garden, caught my eye at three different bookstores. It just kept popping up, so I finally caved and bought it.

PLOT- In The Wonder Garden, Acampora writes a series of interwoven stories set in the fictional east coast town of Old Cranberry.

LIKE- Acampora is
...more
Lisa
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: whittemore-women
Like most short story collections, there were a few really good stories and a few duds, but all in all this was a strong collection. I liked that certain characters popped up in other stories. I wouldn't exactly say the stories overlapped, but there was some popping-up. The only problem with this was that each story was so unique that when some of the less memorable characters reoccurred, I was never 100% sure if I was thinking of the right character or if I was imagining the pop-up. There were ...more
Debbie
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm sitting here after reading this book and looking at the four and five star reviews that have already been posted. I don't get it. I don't get this book with stories just ending haphazardly and the book just ending awkwardly. Stories are only partially told. I read about many problems each of these people are having, yet in my opinion, those stories are still out there waiting to be finished. What happened to the little girl? What happened to the woman who took her? What happened to the gay c ...more
Brian
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
In this novel....which reads more like a collection of short stories, we hit upon the inner workings of a small town filled with very odd people who have their own set of secrets. Each chapter focuses on a different character, and as you read through the different points of view, you will encounter some characters that have appeared in other stories as well. This worked for me some of the time, but other times, I forgot who someone was and was a bit confused by it. The stories themselves are wha ...more
Jessica Sullivan
This collection exposes the dark secrets lurking beneath the banal predictability of an upper-class New England neighborhood.

One man seeks intimacy with his wife in a disturbing and gruesome way. Another leaves his cushy job as an advertising executive when his spirit animal compels him to become a healer. The women in the neighborhood play the traditional roles of mothers and wives, though underneath they conceal deeper, darker yearnings. Death is a common theme throughout—a constant and subtl
...more
Tara - Running 'n' Reading
I've not been truly enthralled by a collection of short stories since Tenth of December by George Saunders; however, author Lauren Acampora has definitely brought the magic back for me! If you are a fan of somewhat dark, borderline "weird" tales that take place in the most unsuspecting environments (suburbia, for example), then you MUST read this collection. I can guarantee that there will be times when you finish one of these stories and you find yourself leaning back in your seat, saying, "Who ...more
Joanne
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an extraordinarily wonderful collection of stories this book is. The fly leaf tells me that the stories intertwine with each other, in that characters move through various events. It takes a bit of effort at first to remember where you've met that person before in the book, but the backstory always adds to the current one.

There is an element of creepiness to many of the chapters. Certain stories feel like there is something black hovering in the corner waiting to pounce. There are some ser
...more
Tuck
a novel of vignettes set in conn rich white peoples country. so to me? who cares...
but well written and fun believable characters and tableauxs. l liked this a bit more subversive novel set in same sort of white upper middle class better , i mean if ya gotta 'hang around' witha bunch of conn's, at least can have some sex drugs n rock n roll right? Life Among Giants
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Karen
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
The writing is good.., however all these stories left in limbo, I wanted to know what happened to these people.
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Lauren Acampora's first novel, The Paper Wasp, was published by Grove Atlantic in June 2019. It’s been named a Best Summer Read by The New York Times Book Review, USA Today, Oprah Magazine, ELLE, Town & Country, BBC.com, Daily Mail (UK), Tatler, Thrillist, and Publishers Weekly. It has also been nominated for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.

Her debut collection of linked stories, The Wo
...more

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