The Monsters of Templeton, Lauren Groff, Nyperion, 2008, 361 pp
I wish I could say that I loved this book, but I didn't. I was looking forward to it with high expectations because I had read a story by the author in the 2007 Best American Short Stories which just took my breath away.
I think this is an ambitious novel with plenty of elements that I usually like: a young woman who is quirky and intelligent, history, a family tree which figures in the story and a bit of the supernatural. But I found it hard to follow, which is saying a lot because I can follow even the most convoluted novels. I just could not completely believe Willie Upton, the twenty-something heroine, and I could not get a grasp on her mother Vi in such a way as to feel involved with either one.
Willie has gotten herself in a jam and come home from an archeology dig that would have figured in her graduate thesis. She feels she has totally blown it and that her life is ruined. For such an independent and intelligent young woman, she spends the whole book being nasty to the mother she came home to for shelter and being about as silly emotionally as any chick lit heroine. It didn't seem to fit together right.
Getting through the novel was an effort, took way too long for a mere 361 pages and while the reader is supposed to feel that Willie changed and grew, I did not feel that she did. However, due to the short story that introduced me to Lauren Groff and to the large amount of potential I see in the novel, I will certainly read the next one she writes.
(The Monsters of Templeton is available in paperback and eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)