The Monsters of Templeton
by Lauren Groff
Hyperion, 2008. 384 pages. $25
I don’t know what it says about me that I keep picking up books where the academic advisor is the bad guy. I do think that Groff handles the plot device more successfully than Howe. But then again, Groff’s book is quite different than Howe’s, even though many of the literary conventions are on the surface similar.
Groff’s novel is a story about a girl who goes back to her hometown, only to find out that the more things change, the more things stay the same. Before you start rolling your eyes, let me say that Groff weaves a masterful tale that incorporates ghosts, monsters, history, genealogy, wonder, and suspense that made me keep reading page after page. I finished the book in one sitting—though in the spirit of full disclosure, I was also trapped on a plane for 6 hours.
I picked up the book in Chapters, a Canadian bookstore. 3 whole floors of books! I was in heaven. Groff’s book was sitting there on a table, waiting for me. I remembered the cover from reading about it in the New York Times. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but I knew that I wanted to read it. Now.
I love me some literary literariness. Woven through the story are little vignettes told from other people’s point of view. I especially liked the chapters on the Running Buds and Noname. There are photographs, family trees, and pictures between some chapters just to keep it interesting.
Groff’s writing style is fluid and comes naturally to her. I was very excited to learn as I began writing this review that I already own Groff’s short story collection Delicate Edible Birds without realizing it was the same author. Expect a review of that collection in the coming weeks.
Overall, I would recommend this book to my friends and family. A great read, perfect for a sunny afternoon.