2 Jan 2011



Willie 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 archeology professor. That same day, 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 has all been a lie. He wasn't the one-night stand Vi led her to imagine, but someone else entirely.

As Willie puts her archaeological skills to work digging for the truth about her lineage, a chorus of voices from the town's past rise up around her to tell their side of the story. 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.
..... From the outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE: The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: A man invoked at third-grade sleepovers in the hushed and daring tone used for the devil himself, a man who looked like the devil himself, all horny calluses and shining pickled-looking skin, a crooked-back, hollow cheeked man with eyes set so deep in his sockets no one had ever seen their whites, he who once walked into a cloud of butterflies and made them fall like dropped pennies in his wake .....

I'm sure that most of you will agree that as book bloggers we endeavour to give an honest opinion of the books we read BUT that, at the end of the day, that is all they are - our personal opinions as the stories I love and the characters I hold dear may well be as equally disliked by the next person who happens along the book. Why mention this now? Because my personal dislike of the journal/diary and letter format totally clouds my otherwise enjoyment of this debut novel.

For a start it took me the first 50 or so pages to convince myself that yes, this was a book worth reading - to be honest it was only my stubborn streak and reluctance to give up on a novel that prevented me putting it down and reading something else. However perseverance won and I found myself enjoying certain elements of The Monsters Of Templeton.

The story of mother, Vi, and daughter, Willie, (Wilhelmina Sunshine to give her her full title) was wonderful and very touching as was the relationship between Vi and Willie and Willie's good friend Clarissa who happens to have a chronic illness which I thought the author dealt with wonderfully.

Full of eccentric and yet believable characters many of whom I found myself becoming enchanted with thanks partly to the remarkable, if odd, names they have (*I list some below), I think this novel has more to recommend it character wise than it does plot wise some of which, as the Daily Mail newspaper informs us on the back cover is 'fact' - the rest being 'fiction and myth.'

However, as I mentioned before, marring my overall enjoyment of the book was the journal extracts and the letters - something I personally don't like and generally, as was the case here, find off-putting. Combine this with the interspersed stories of past inhabitants of Templeton and I have to say that, for me, this book was more of a miss than a hit with me which is a shame as overall it has much to recommend it.

But what of the prehistoric monster I mentioned? Fondly known as Glimmy, he/she/it is mentioned periodically throughout the book and even has a three page epilogue dedicated to it's dying thoughts. The significance? Ah, I'm afraid that somehow passed me by.

* Aristabulus Mudge (the man referred to in my memorable moment)
Ezekiel Felcher,
Asterisk Upton,
Cinnamon Averell Stokes Starkweather Sturgis Graves Peck,
 Piddle Smalley (Piddle made even funnier as here in the north east of England to piddle is one of the terms meaning to urinate)

The  Monsters Of Templeton was a reading group read.


Arti said...

Overall, the book sounds quite mysterious to me..
But I have two thoughts on liking it.. Thanks for not putting the book down and bringing for us this wonderful review.
Have a beautiful day:-)

Misha said...

I like eccentric characters and books about "dark secrets" as the synopsis states.I think I might give this book a try since ,as you said it does offer more character-wise.
The names are really ...weird... LOL

Mary said...

Hmm, not sure if this is one for me but I have to say I love your reviews. What did the rest of your book group think?

Jen Daiker said...

I love your detailed review. This was nice. The cover alone intrigues me so I think I'll give it a go, though normally it wouldn't be my cup of tea.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Thanks for the honest review. It is just our opinion, but it is one worth a look! I don't know if this one is for me, but the characters seem interesting. :)

Dorte H said...

You are right, these names are hilarious. Aristabulus Mudge is my favourite.

Kelly said...

Interesting review. I don't mind books in this format, so that wouldn't put me off of it at all.

The names are funny! I think of the same thing when I hear "piddle"... usually associated with a puppy.

Melissa Gill said...

Great review Tracy. I'll probably hold off on this one.

Suko said...

Petty, thanks for your honest review. I often like novels in epistolary form, but they are certainly not everyone's cup of tea.

GMR said...

Hmm...the story itself sounds interesting I suppose, and I don't usually tend to mind that particular story format, so it may be worth a go...but what I really enjoyed was the honesty (as usual). Tis true...reviews are nothing more than our opinions, but each one tends to bring to light a little something different thus sparking the interest of future reader. Thanks for sharing!

naida said...

I am intrigued! But then again I do like books that are in diary format.

Jenners said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who didn't get the point of the monster in the lake either!! This was a miss for me as well. Good review!