I know that I have many books that fit into the “oh, I just have to read that!” category, and Monsters of Templeton was definitely one of those. So, I was super excited when it was selected for the monthly pick for one of my book clubs. It turned out to be a big hit with everyone in the book club.
The Monsters of Templeton was a very unique book that is kind of hard to describe. At its heart, it was the story of a young woman trying to uncover who her father is. Willie Upton is a 28 year old archeology PhD student who returns home to Templeton, NY after having an affair with one of her professors.
Templeton was to me like a less-important limb, something inherently mine, something I took for granted. My own tiny, lovely village with a great old mansions and a glorious lake, my own grand little hamlet where everyone know your name, but with elaborate little frills that made it unlike anywhere else: the baseball museum, the Opera, the hospital that had vast arms extending into the rest of upstate, an odd mix of Podunk and cosmopolitan. I came back when I had to, to feel safe, to recharge; I just hadn’t had to in so long.
Shortly after Willie arrives home 2 things happen: 1) a huge, dead lake monster floats to the surface of the lake in the center of town and 2) Willie’s mother, Vi, confesses that Willie’s father wasn’t a random free love hippie in San Francisco but was in fact someone from Templeton. Vi refuses to tell Willie her father’s name but does tell her that her father is someone who is also connected to the town’s founder. Willie starts researching her family tree and the town’s history to try to determine who her father could be. As she conducts her research she uncovers scandals, ghosts and more. The chapters alternate between present day told from Willie’s point of view and the past told from Willie’s various ancestors’ points of view.
I really enjoyed this book. It was quirky and filled with whimsy and subtle humor. There were lots of interesting characters uncovered during Willie’s research. It was a combination of historical fiction, mystery, and contemporary fiction. Overall the book was a very engaging read that I found extremely difficult to put down.