Wednesday, January 30, 2008

family ties

title: The Monsters of Templeton
author: Lauren Groff
releasing: right about now?

Monsters is a first time novel by a very sweet and gracious author...they aren't all like that!

the novel is set in a fictional Cooperstown, complete with a fiction James F. Cooper, author of novels. Characters from the last of the Mohicans even make it in here...and though it adds to the interest, you really wouldn't need to know who they were to follow the story.

there are a few different things going on american loch ness monster. a lovely little ghost living in the house of the last remains of the Temple family. a search (a terrific journey, really) through a crazy ancestry where we eventually find that three branches of the same family entered into making the last member in the Temple line.

although the monster and the ghost add something to the story (and will help intrigue Stephen King fans - he loves the book!), i was totally into the family story. when the book begins, the main character, Willie Upton, has a very limited understanding of her family tree. she knows she's decended from the Temples (including the JFC stand-in, Jacob Franklin Temple) through both of her maternal grandparents, and being a bastard, that's all the family that counts. She's spurred about 1/3 of the way through to book to being researching the family further to find yet a third line decended from the original Temple, information her mother refuses to disclose. As she hunts around, the family tree that is shown throughout the book is updated to show Willie's new findings. Ancestor's she discovers are treated to having whole chapters told in their voice, sharing information contemporary to their place in time. there are nifty old pictures the author collected to represent all these characters.

although i wasn't as hooked by the monster and the ghost as i was by the family story, what i did notice was how casually they were slipped in there, and how accepting all the towns residence are of the existence (or proof of existence) of the big monster in the lake. just as if monsters and ghosts are totally normal, and i guess in Templeton they are.

Willie herself has an intersting personal story, which is the real movement in the plot. still, the family background stuff wins again. that's my favorite part, can ya tell?

it's definately a fiction novel, despite odd creatures, and probably more of a likely read for ladies than gentlemen...i would recommend ladies and gentlemen it a shot; i just didn't want to mis-represent or make it sound as grounded in the supernatural as the average King novel.

The author also has a blog, for those who need an extra layer of book immersion:

[every woman's] Voice is a cool imprint, focusing on woman writers. just in case that wasn't clear :-)

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posted by ~e at 11:07 PM


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