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The Monsters of Templeton

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  19,204 ratings  ·  2,775 reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER -- the debut novel by the acclaimed author of Fates and Furies.

"The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass."

So begins The Monsters of Templeton, a novel spanning two centuries: part contemporary story of a girl's search for her father; part
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Hachette Books (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  19,204 ratings  ·  2,775 reviews

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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, 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
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
Will Byrnes
The author, a native of Cooperstown, NY has written a love tale to her town, renamed Templeton. The name was a nom de place used by James Fenimore Cooper for the town in his book The Pioneers. Wilhelmina (Willie) Upton has returned to town, pregnant, distraught, at a turning point in her life. Her mother had kept from her the name of her father, substituting a fable that fit the era of her conception. But Vi, her mother, is willing to offer hints, leaving it to Willie to apply her research skill ...more
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: set-in-the-us
I finally abandoned this with only sixty pages to go. Abandoned it without learning the answer to the central question the book asks – who was my father? Because I realised I just couldn’t care. And because I was unable to distinguish most of the many characters from each other despite spending 400 pages with them so it didn’t matter who the father was.

Family trees are fascinating. I love that programme Who do you think you are? We’d all like to know much more about our ancestors. To discover t
Mar 08, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-misses
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
B the BookAddict
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Goodreads

Author Lauren Groff gives the reader a modern story, a fantasy and an historical fiction story all within her tale of Willie, returned to her family home, who embarks on a quest to find the identity of her real father. There is also a mythical lake monster and a resident ghost and while other writers may stagger under the weight of such scope, Groff juggles all story lines reasonably well. It is narrated partly in the third person by two main characters, in first person narrations of ancestors a
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Eva Celeste
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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Made it 2/3 of the way through, skimmed the rest. How this was written by the same author as the breathtaking Fates and Furies I'LL NEVER KNOW. ...more
Mar 25, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Julie Ehlers
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
In my reviews of Lauren Groff's later novels, Arcadia and Fates and Furies, I posited that Groff's writing is at its best when plot is de-emphasized; it's when she starts focusing on plot in a more conventional sense that things begin to go downhill. Nowhere is this more true than in her first novel, The Monsters of Templeton. This novel has plot coming out of its ears! So much plot, piling up everywhere!

Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a problem for me; I'm a shameless lover of plot. Here, though,
Nov 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about this book. It is many things in one. It is a mystery, family drama, historical fiction, romance, and cryptozoology all tied up in a lovely package. And very enjoyable to read.

The story opens with two plot lines. First a young woman comes home to a place she never wanted to see again. And second, a creature is found floating dead in a lake. Then the whole story diverges into a hot mess, but it is a beautiful hot mess.

Even Big Steve (A.K.A. Stephen King) enjoyed this story. An
Feb 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
If Willie Upton were a real woman, I would kick her ass. I considered drop-kicking this book across the room, but I have too much respect for literature. However, I define "literature" quite loosely in this case.

I had all sorts of issues with this book, but my primary beef is with Willie Upton, a Stanford archeology PhD candidate and the main character. She goes away to Alaska with her professor and a group of Harvard guys to search for the oldest human on the continent. She has an affair with h
(Nearly 4.5) I enjoyed this immensely, from the first line on: “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” Twenty-eight-year-old Wilhelmina Sunshine “Willie” Upton is back in her hometown in upstate New York, partway through a PhD program and pregnant by her older, married archaeology professor after a summer of fieldwork in Alaska. It’s a strange echo of what happened when her own mother, Vivienne, moved back from her ...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
Have you ever picked up a book because it had a pretty cover, knowing almost nothing about it before you start reading? And then, when you begin to get lost in the pages, you realize that said book is the most perfect book to read at this most perfect time in your life because it just, I don't know, speaks to you and every situation that you are currently facing? And then, it seems that every person in your life at that particular moment in time seems also to be speaking to you from the pages of ...more
Kara 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
May 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  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
May 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Oct 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this book because I've been to Cooperstown; and while knowing the town is not necessary, it certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the novel with my being able to visualize the streets, etc. in my head (especially since it's such a novel of 'place' -- another element that appeals to me). While this novel isn't 'great literature' (and why should it be!), I do think it's a 'literary novel'. But most of all, it was fun and inventive and smart, and I enjoyed the whole experience of it. ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
The Monsters of Templeton was hard to categorize. I finally decided it is magical realisim. Regardless of how you want to categorize it, I found the book to be a wonderful read.

Set in the current day, the author takes the reader on a trip through the establishment of the town of Templeton, using journals and letters written by and for the towns founders, the Templeton. There is all kinds of magical and supernatural elements interspersed throughout the novel. That is not really the focus of the
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
Feb 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
I have to admit that I had not heard word one about this book before its delightful cover caught my eye on the Powell's sale shelf and somehow leapt into my hands. I mean look at it- stark black and white coloring with just a splash of red- how could it not grab my attention? Likewise, I had very little knowledge of Cooperstown, New York, (aside from it being the home of the baseball Hall of Fame) before cracking open the pages of this volume.

So imagine my surprise when I learned in the opening
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Lauren Groff was born 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 Best Amer

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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.” 47 likes
“Even still, we run. We have not reached our average of 57.92 years without knowing that you run through it, and it hurts and you run through it some more, and if it hurts worse, you run through it even more, and when you finish, you will have broken through. In the end, when you are done, and stretching, and your heartbeat slows, and your sweat dries, if you've run through the hard part, you will remember no pain.” 18 likes
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