Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Monsters of Templeton (TerriLynn)

Quick hello first as I'm new to the blog and have eagerly joined the July challenge. While I've been busy reading, I haven't had time to post yet so this morning I'm posting reviews of what I've read over the past couple weeks. Here it goes . . .

From the Orange Prize website:
The Monsters of TempletonWillie 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 say, 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 is a lie. He wasn't the one-night stand Vi had led her to imagine, but someone else entirely. Someone from Templeton.

As Willie puts her archaeological skills to work digging for truth about her lineage, a chorus of voices from the town's past – both sinister and disturbing – rise up around her to tell their sides of the story. Willie discovers the curse of the Temple family runs deep. On the end, 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.

The Monsters of Templeton is an intriguing tapestry of stories deftly woven together. Willie, the protagonist, returns to her small home town in New York (based upon Cooperstown) in the midst of personal chaos and crisis seeking solace in a place of stability and perceived changlessness. Instead she discovers the "monster" who has reportedly haunted the lake for years has been found dead the morning she arrives, high school characters are changed beyond recognition and her ex-hippe mother, Vi, who she counts on for unwavering predictability has suddenly become a born-again Baptist. As part of her new morality, Vi reveals a family secret that has Willie refocusing some of her self-indulgent angst into solving a mystery about her parentage that uncovers hidden stories of town fathers and mothers (again, loosely based on the lives of the Cooper family including James Fenimore Cooper) while trying to sort out the mess her own life has become. While Willie is whiney, self-indulgent and you just want to smack her and tell her to grow up at times, she is also smart, a smart-ass, and grows on you, especially as she grows during the course of the story. Groff also does a fine job bringing in the voices and stories of the past which can be tricky.

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