This is the first novel by Lauren Groff. She has published stories in major magazines, so she certainly has some real writing credentials. The Monsters of Templeton is really an interesting and unique novel.
The “Templeton” of the title refers to a fictional town in upstate New York. It is modeled very closely on Cooperstown, which is best known as the location of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. There are numerous other attractions in Cooperstown, and they, and the tourists who visit, inhabit the background of this book.
The Monsters of Templeton really is the story of a young woman, Willie Upton, who returns to her home town after a two year absence. Willie is a descendant of the town’s founder, Marmaduke Temple. Her mother, Vi, still lives in their ancestral home. Willie has never known her father; her mother led her to believe that he could have been one of a number of men from her wild youth in San Francisco.
Vi finally tells Willie that her father is a resident of Templeton. Vi gives Willie one clue, then challenges her to use her research skills (Willie is a graduate student studying archaeology at Stanford) to figure out his identity. In so doing, Willie learns a great deal about her ancestors, and her town, and, of course herself.
I really like the way Lauren Groff develops the characters. She makes them interesting and three-dimensional whether they are from the present-day or from a previous century. It took me a few chapters to get into the story, but then I was hooked.
The Monsters of Templeton is definitely worth reading.
Published in hardcover-Hyperion 2008