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REVIEW: Arcadia by Lauren Groff @HyperionVoice

Book Description

A brilliant follow-up to Groff’s bestselling debut novel, The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia is the romantic, lush, haunting story of the American Dream and of a gifted young man born into an idealistic community. 

In the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s, several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what becomes a famous commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this lyrical, rollicking, tragic, and exquisite utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after. The novel particularly centers on a young boy – Ridley Sorrel Stone, known as “Little Bit,” and later, “Bit,” who is born soon after the commune is established. 

While Arcadia and the Arcadians rise and fall and evolve across three generations, Bit of course, ages too. Played out against the backdrop of Arcadia is Bit’s lifelong love affair with a young woman on the commune – the lithe and deeply troubled Helle. How does he, an extremely sensitive man, make his way through life and through the world outside Arcadia where he must eventually live? 

What unfolds is an astonishingly beautiful and gripping novel. With Arcadia, Lauren Groff establishes herself as one of the most gifted young fiction writers at work today. 

About the Author

Lauren Groff was born in 1978 in Cooperstown, N.Y., and grew up one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Points as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories 2007, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008. She was awarded the Axton Fellowship in Fiction at the University of Louisville, and has had residencies and fellowships at Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center.

She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, Clay, and her dog, Cooper. 


  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Voice (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401340873
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401340872

Really Liked It.

Born and raised in a commune during the early sixties, Bit doesn't attend regular school, eats no processed food, has never really seen movies or television and reads for entertainment.  Arcadia is built by a group of people that want to live off the grid and be self sustaining.  They have created what they believe to be the ultimate homestead and lifestyle.  The story follows him from birth to old age when his parents die at Arcadia.  The inhabitants also make their income from growing and selling pot, of course, it is all under the table.  When word spreads out through the community that they will celebrate a harvest festival, it becomes a mini Woodstock and gets a bit out of control.  The socialistic community has to decide whether it can remain idealized or sell out.   I enjoyed the book but it took me forever to read as it was slow going.  It was just the type of laid back story that didn't compel me to stay up late and finish it.  I had to put it down several times since I just found myself bored at times.  I adored Monsters of Templeton and there were the same quirky characters here as well, but they just didn't get me involved. 

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