Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Monsters of Templeton
From Publishers Weekly
At the start of Groff's lyrical debut, 28-year-old Wilhelmina "Willie" Upton returns to her picturesque hometown of Templeton, N.Y., after a disastrous affair with her graduate school professor during an archaeological dig in Alaska. In Templeton, Willie's shocked to find that her once-bohemian mother, Vi, has found religion. Vi also reveals to Willie that her father wasn't a nameless hippie from Vi's commune days, but a man living in Templeton. With only the scantiest of clues from Vi, Willie is determined to untangle the roots of the town's greatest families and discover her father's identity. Brilliantly incorporating accounts from generations of Templetonians—as well as characters borrowed from the works of James Fenimore Cooper, who named an upstate New York town Templeton in The Pioneers—Groff paints a rich picture of Willie's current predicaments and those of her ancestors. Readers will delight in Willie's sharp wit and Groff's creation of an entire world, complete with a lake monster and illegitimate children.
I have to say, that is a most excellent synopsis. Short, and to the point.
I've never read any of James Fenimore Cooper's works, and I think that makes the book a little inaccessible in parts. Because there are some pretty important characters later in the book that I know came from Cooper, but I didn't know how. So color me clueless. I generally don't like books that incorporate aspects of older novels...and this is why.
I thought the story got off to a rough start, but once Willie started investigating her family's past, it smoothed out and picked up. But then, about 3/4 of the way through, I was ready for the end. This was about the time some of Cooper's characters started cluttering up the pages. I know this book was (is?) pretty popular, and I can see why, but I think it's suffering in comparison to some really wonderful books that I've read lately. And plus, there's that whole Cooper thing...I don't think I can get past that.