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Arcadia Falls

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  4,526 Ratings  ·  610 Reviews
There once was a girl who liked to pretend she was lost. . . .
Meg Rosenthal is driving toward the next chapter in her life. Winding along a wooded roadway, her car moves through a dense forest setting not unlike one in the bedtime stories Meg used to read to her daughter, Sally. But the girl riding beside Meg is a teenager now, and has exchanged the land of make-believe f
Hardcover, First Edition, 355 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: meh, blog
**This was an advanced reader's copy I received through LibraryThing**

In the beginning, I really wanted to love this book. I really, really did. Toward the middle of the book, I was just hoping to like it. By the end, I was ready to bid it a not-so-fond farewell and move on to something else. The novel sounds as though it's tailor made for me: there's the strained mother/daughter relationship, the pastoral setting at a private school for the arts, dark and eerie fairytales, a judicious dollop of
Alissa Patrick
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars.

This was a misfire for me. I don't know if maybe reading it would be better, instead of listening to it like I did.

There were just too many characters and too much confusion, and when the secrets of the old boarding school and its surrounding forest were revealed, my reaction was this:

Jan 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book better than I did. Described as an "enthralling work of literary fiction that follows a mother and daughter as they uncover the sinister secrets of an isolated boarding school", I expected a gripping plot with rich, descriptive prose. Instead I was frustrated by a plodding, unbelievable story line. It particularly bothered me that the untimely death of a student at the school barely evoked an emotional response from the characters, let alone the parents of the student ...more
Jul 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs, review-copy
Things I Liked:
The atmosphere of the book was perfect. It was creepy and fairy tale-esque and kept reminding me of how gorgeous and mysterious nature can be. I loved the aspects of the school's history that related to fairy tales and the mysterious veil that was spread across the whole place. The story was pretty intriguing as well, near the end. But what I think carries this book is the setting and the descriptions of the time, the location, etc, that make you feel like you are a part of this f
The one other book I've read by this author, The Lake of Dead Languages, was excellent, and is amongst my favourite reads of this year so far. It was a disappointment, then, to find this one so formulaic and uninspired in comparison. It was a good story and certainly the kind of thing I generally enjoy - the problem, for me, was that it was so similar to The Lake of Dead Languages.

The protagonist and narrator is the single mother of an only daughter and, at the start of the book, has moved from
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Arcadia Falls is a book to get lost in. Author Goodman takes here signature themes, women, water, and academia, and wraps them in a Russian doll of a fairy tale. But it's a fairy tale for adults, and it's a tautly plotted mystery as well. Having lost her husband, and most of their money along with him, Meg Rosenthal must give up grad school, where she's been working on her thesis about folk stories, and start anew with her grieving and angry teenage daughter, Sally. Meg lands a job teaching lit ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
For those that enjoy both historical fiction and mystery, this is a good choice. Tho most of it takes place in a contemporary town called Arcadia Falls, the modern day murder mystery parallels a murder that occured in the 1930s.

The modern day heroine is Meg. She is newly widowed and struggling both financially and emotionally and arrives at Arcadia's private art school with her sullen teenage daughter in tow where she proceeds to teach and unravel two murder mysteries. The modern day murder of
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book was choppy and uneven. Occasionally you would get drawn into certain scenes or characters, but other times the poor metaphors and overdone references to modern technology or pop culture made it feel heavy-handed. The climax scenes were ridiculously written, like a bad lifetime movie, but other plot-advancing scenes of exploration and observation could be fairly intriguing. I wish the depth and moodiness of some of these moments persisted, and that characters could become more real and ...more
Apr 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
UGH! The only reason I'm putting this on Good Reads is TO SAVE YOU because if you read the back, it sounds like a book that is interesting, gothic, and has a good mystery. It ends up trying to beat you over the head with about a billion different moral platitudes, not to mention a complete disintegration of narrative thread, and implausible "tying it all together" in the end. Plotholes big enough to drop a truck through, and (my biggest bug) 2 different narrative voices, that actually sound THE ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Carol Goodman is not an author I read for innovation and surprise. This novel, with its setting in a boarding school in a beautiful and secluded area of upstate New York, where an over-educated protagonist uses her knowledge of a specific art form (in this case, early-20th century U.S. folklore) to solve a mystery with ties to the past and the present, is so derivative of Goodman's earlier works that it feels more like a third draft than a separate novel - but I loved it anyway. Goodman's power ...more
Feb 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Forced by the untimely death of her husband to accept a teaching position at an isolated East Coast boarding school called ARCADIA, Meg Rosenthal finds herself immersed in the turmoil surrounding two deaths at the school. One death, that of the schools founder Lily Eberhardt, happened years ago while the other occurs during Megs first weeks at the school.

Through the accidental discovery of a journal written by Lily, Meg uncovers not only the history of ARCADIA's inception as an artist colony fo
Jan 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
When Meg Rosenthal gets a job offer from a private boarding school in Upper New York, she thinks this will be the new start she's looking for. Recently widowed, and with her sixteen year old daughter in tow, Meg makes the move to Arcadia, the art school she's been hired at.

Right from the start, it's apparent that things are done a bit differently at Arcadia. Students--and faculty--celebrate pagan rituals such as Samhain and summer solstice. As Meg (and her daughter) become more emeshed with the
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
I am sitting here trying to figure out the best way to start this review. So I am just going to jump into the characters. Meg is a recent widow whom sometimes I find annoying. At times I felt she was making choices that shock me. Then other times she seems so strong willed about finding her way after her husband is gone. Such as finding a new job packing up and moving herself and her daughter to the school where she would teach.
Sally also seemed to annoy me. She seemed like a brat. Even though
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Meg is trying to push forward in life and Sally is closing herself off. Meg is unhappy that the two of them have drifted so far apart and with the death of Meg's husband, Sally's father, the bridge between them has been closed off.

Meg wants to move to a new place and start a new life. Money troubles just reinforce the need to move on. Meg accepts a job as a teacher and is desperately trying to make the best of the cards she has been dealt.

When one of Meg's students dies during a bonfire and the
Aug 26, 2018 added it
I am interested in the real female artists who inspired this story (Violet Oakley, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green) so I hoped to love this book. There were great moments, a nice romance, and a good creepy death at the start, but the backstory and the modern mother-daughter story didn’t quite mesh. And, the ending was, as the heroine herself admits, too far-fetched.
May 08, 2017 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 25% boring
Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own
At first glance, I wasn't sure this would be the sort of book I might normally read…which makes me wonder, what IS the type of book I would normally read and what were my assumptions going into this book. The basic synopsis sets the book up to be a sort of mother-daughter relationship book combined with a sort of self-discovery and some peripheral romance and mystery thrown in. With that sort of description, it sounds like it might border on "chick-lit" and be a little too sentimental for my tas ...more
Educating Drew
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
For the most part I want to say: Wow. Oh wow! This novel is so-o-O amazing and so-o-O beautiful I was immediately drawn in. Plus, it's multilayered, so it's like getting two books in one. Always a good deal, right. But that's for the most part. I'll get to the least part in a few...

meg just recently lost her husband and moves to a remote boarding school (Arcadia Falls) in upstate New York with her typical moody, morose, and artistic teenaged daughter, Sally. Meg is pretty excited about the job a
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in February 2012.

There is almost a subgenre of fiction set in remote New England boarding schools and colleges. Like thirties house parties in English stately homes, a staple setting for vintage crime fiction (as well as P.G. Wodehouse, of course), they provide a sealed community of privileged individuals which acts to intensify relationships, promote jealousy and passion, and makes more or less normal people behave in strange and bizarre fashions - as happen
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Carol Goodman is known for her gothic, fictional portraits of academia. Her latest release, Arcadia Falls, is no exception. The novel begins as Meg Rosenthal and her daughter Sally travel from their over-sized, suburban home in Great Neck, New York, to the small upstate town of Arcadia. Meg lost her husband Jude last year, and neither she nor Sally has yet dealt with their grief. The two move so that Meg can take a teaching job at a private fine arts boarding school just outside of town called A ...more
Lizzie Hayes
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
‘Arcadia Falls’ by Carol Goodman
Published by Piatkus, February 2011. ISBN: 978-0-7499-4242-7

Following her husband’s death Meg Rosenthal leaves the wealthy East Coast with her daughter Sally and joins the staff of a smart private school, Arcadia College to teach and pursue her academic fascination with folklore and nineteenth century literature.

Arcadia College, set in a valley against the side of a mountain and on three side’s thickly wooded countryside, was the home of Vera Beecher who establish
Jul 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I loved Goodman's first four books, especially Lake of Dead Languages. But her fifth and sixth efforts, The Sonnet Lover and The Night Villa, were too formulaic, and the writer seemed to be drifting on autopilot, rehashing the same old characters and dusting off the same tired plot devices. However, with Arcadia Falls, I think Goodman is getting back on the right track.

Although the main character, Meg, is another middle-aged academic,the writer has taken more care to fill out her dimensions as
Feb 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Recently widowed Meg takes a teaching position at the Arcadia Falls art colony in hopes of gaining financial stability, restoring her relationship with her teenage daughter, Claire, and completing her research on the authors of a lost changeling girl fairytale. This fairytale and its lessons weave their truths throughout Meg and Claire's Arcadia Falls experience.[return][return]Carol Goodman's voice lures you into a seductive world of fairy tales and pagan rituals, mystery and death. She weaves ...more
Ellen Christian
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'd never read a Carol Goodman book before so I wasn't sure what to expect starting this book. I have to say that I really enjoyed it! Meg is a totally believable mom with a teenage daughter that reminds me a lot of my daughter. They move to an artsy private boarding school where Meg takes a job teaching at the school loacated in a small rural community in Upstate New York that reminds me of the town I live in.

Meg is familiar with the town because of an old fairy tale called The Changeling Girl
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Normally I don't enjoy literary works that tells a story within a story but Carol Goodman spins a brilliant tale of how the past and present is intertwined in this atmospheric mystery.
Meg Rosenthal has to find a way to support herself and her daughter Sally after her husband dies suddenly of a heart attack, leaving behind a mountain of debt.She sells off her New York house and accepts a teaching job - the only one she could get with her qualifications - in Arcadia Falls , a place where she hope
May 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
The fact that I found this under the bed while looking for a pair of shoes and had completely forgotten that I read it a couple of weeks ago and hadn't reviewed it with that week's stack of books pretty much says it all about how I felt about this book - it was just utterly forgettable.

I've enjoyed the two other books by Goodman that I've read, The Seduction of Water and The Lake of Dead Languages, but this one was really just so so. In many ways this novel combines plot elements of the other t
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
I was surprised this author has written many other books, because this one reads like a first novel. Lots of awkward name dropping and attempts to look current with pop culture just made the characters look pretentious and silly. Also more research could have been done, when it comes to the Hudson Valley/Ulster County setting. Kingston, NY is not very exotic! Trust me, I grew up there! The story itself was initially interesting. A recently widowed woman takes a job in an upstate private school w ...more
There was something very fake, artificial and overdrawn about Arcadia Falls' narrative. Reading it was a lot like looking at something that you know is supposed to be really beautiful on the outside, say a gorgeous car, but being able to see right past all the shiny paint to the ugly machinery, motors and gears that are underneath. As a reader, I could see right through all of the cheap, melodramatic twists and turns that were supposed to be these great plot devices. Plus, Goodman tries to incor ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
I remember, perhaps erroneously how engaging The Lake Of Dead Languages was when I read it in 2005 or so. And I read her second soon after- The Seduction of Water, then The Drowning Tree, and while there were faults, overall I looked forward to the next. The Ghost Orchid was okay, but from The Sonnet Lover, through The Night Villa which I almost put down, and now this novel I feel sadly disappointed. Had the reads not been so fast and able to be consummed in one sitting, I doubt I would persist ...more
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Carol Goodman is the author of The Lake of Dead Languages, The Seduction of Water, the Watchtower Trilogy(with husband Lee Slonimsky), and the young adult Blythewood series. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, Literal Latte, The Midwest Quarterly, and Other Voices. After graduation from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin, she taught Latin for several years in A ...more