ARCADIA by Lauren Groff
I was very excited when I heard that Lauren Groff had a new novel out. I was a big fan of her first novel, THE MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON, and was eager to read ARCADIA. I am happy to say that I was not disappointed. Groff is so gifted at setting a place, making you feel that you are right there, and creating characters that are so well defined that you think you can hear their voices.

It is the 1970’s, in western New York state, and there is an eclectic group of people who are living off the land. This is a commune and everyone, in theory, has a job to do. There are bakers, carpenters, midwifes, and many created families. A boy named Bit was born in this commune and we experience this unusual world through his eyes. Bit is able to speak, but for a period of time, he has decided to not do so, and this makes him an even better observer of his surroundings. When Bit is a teenager he and his parents leave the commune and have to face the “real world”.

This novel is basically the story of Bit, as a boy and as a grown man. But Arcadia (named after the old mansion that was on the land) does not leave him. It has impacted his life in many ways. And as in many things in life, it brings him to a point of full circle.

Wonderful writing and so many memorable images, Lauren Groff has written a brilliant novel.

THE BORROWER by Rebecca Makkai
A children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, Lucy is not a happy person. Her life is without direction and for a librarian, shockingly disorganized. Ian, is ten years old, and a regular user of the public library. He absolutely loves to read, but his parents control every book he reads. They are very religious, and there is a long list of books he cannot bring home.

Impulsively, Ian decides to run away and Lucy becomes his driver and accomplice. This first novel is about two people who go on the road and have no clue about what they are doing or where they are going. But as the reader, you are so taken by their relationship and how it develops and changes their lives. There are little adventures along the way and you are glad you are along for the ride. A good story and a good start for a new novelist.

Recommended viewing: British television just aired the first season of ENDEAVOUR and I assume it will be coming soon to the United States. This is the prequel to Inspector Morse, as we see how his career began. Viewers have already seen a film and it has now become a new series. It is lots of fun and I enjoyed the early years of Morse. But no matter what, I sure do miss John Thaw. By the way, Thaw’s daughter has a regular supporting role in this series.

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  • krunn7  On May 24, 2013 at 12:44 am

    These both sound wonderful to an old gal in the bush fishing and camping and with minimal communications with the outside world.

  • Leslie  On May 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks for the book recommendations, Jane. I miss John Thaw and Inspector Morse as well. Let’s hope it does not take too long for Endeavor to make it’s way across the ocean.

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