The Monsters of Templeton, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Willie Cooper arrives on the doorstep of her ancestral home in Templeton, New York in the wake of a disastrous affair with her much older, married archaeology professor.

That same day, the discovery of a prehistoric monster in the lake brings a media frenzy to the quiet, picture-perfect town her ancestors founded.

Smarting from a broken heart, Willie then learns that the story her mother had always told her about her father has all been a lie.

He wasn't the one - night stand Vi had led her to imagine, but someone else entirely.

As Willie puts her archaeological skills to work digging for the truth about her lineage, a chorus of voices from the town's past rise up around her to tell their sides of the story.

Dark secrets come to light, past and present blur, old mysteries are finally put to rest, and the surprising truth about more than one monster is revealed.




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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

This is a strange novel, one I picked up at a whim and wasn't expecting to like very much, and I don't think it's immediately obvious from the cover and blurb what an odd little hybrid it is. On the surface, it is a family-saga type novel: Wilhelmina Upton, PhD candidate and all-round smart girl, has returned to her childhood home town, Templeton, NY, having had an affair with her supervisor, got pregnant and then tried to run over his wife with a bush plane. On the same day, the body of a monster is discovered in the lake, and Willie's mother, Vivienne, tells her that her father, long supposed to be a passing hippie in a San Francisco commune, isn't who she always thought he was. It's as funny, and bittersweet, as it sounds. But it's necessary to understand that Templeton, while fictional, has more reality than most fictional places - it is the name given by James Fenimore Cooper to Cooperstown when he wrote about <i>his</i> home town, and in the same way, the author writes an odd mix of history and epistolary fiction, grounding her story of family in the notes and papers of the past. The result is interesting: it's sad, funny and engaging. It's flawed: it has a tendency to bring in important plot threads and quietly forget about them a few hundred pages later, and the unfolding of the history can get a little convenient at times, but it does engage. And for something that could also be described as 400 pages of <i>Last of the Mohicans</i> fanfiction, it's good fun.

Review by

A young woman investigates the history of her home town, uncovering all manner of monsters, human and otherwise. Curiously intertwined with the works and worlds of James Fenimore Cooper – which is rather lost on me, as I’m not familiar with him.

Review by

I remember reading Julie’s review when she first read this novel. I know she was fond of it so I was excited she suggested I read this one as part of our List Swap Challenge. I have to admit, the beginning of this novel began in fits and starts for me. It took me a while to get into it but once I did, I got wrapped up on the story. I loved Willie from the word go.Willie is the main character in this novel, the prodigal daughter returned shamed after a tryst with her very married college professor. And if that isn’t bad enough, she’s knocked up. She has a bun in the oven she (somewhat) lovingly refers to as The Lump. The thing about Willie is that she’s heartbroken (and I love the brokenhearted) and remorseful and so lost she doesn’t know what to do with herself. To help her recover, her sweet former hippie turned Christian mom tells her that her father is a “Random Templeton Man” and Willie’s mission is to find out who it is with minimal help from dear old mom. That sets Willie off on a crazy chase into her family’s past to find out who this mystery man is.The next thing I loved about this novel is the darkness. About 7 or 8 years ago I read a book called Dating Big Bird by Laura Zigman. Although the pages where blinding white, the novel was shroud in darkness. This novel was the same. Even as I got to know Willie and her struggles, it felt like I was reading Monster of Templeton in the dark. I guess it’s appropriate to feel that way because I’m sure that’s how Willie felt. She was in the dark about who her father was and what to do about the Lump. This novel was filled with a crazy cast of characters from Willie’s crooked family tree. Their stories are told mostly in chapters dedicated to flashbacks. Of those wacky branches, my favorite had to be the correspondence between Cinnamon Averell and her best friend Charlotte Franklin Temple. I wish there was a novel dedicated to their story, especially Cinnamon. She was a spicy little gem full of moxie. Oh to sit with her for a cup of tea and hear her sordid little secrets. Overall, I really enjoyed The Monsters of Templeton. Lauren Groff is a gifted writer with the ability to write in lyrical, poetic prose and expressive descriptions. I will admit by the end of the novel, I couldn’t care less who Willie’s father was. I guess it was the point to all this but really, it didn’t matter to me. My desire to know got lost in the pages and pages of the town and Temple family history. I am glad I read it and would recommend it but I wouldn’t read this novel again. I would, however, read Ms. Groff’s other novels. She has a gift, that much is true.

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