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Arcadia: A Novel

Arcadia: A Novel

4.1 39
by Lauren Groff

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"Timeless and vast... The raw beauty of Ms. Groff's prose is one of the best things about Arcadia. But it is by no means this book's only kind of splendor."—-Janet Maslin, The New York Times"

Even the most incidental details vibrate with life Arcadia wends a harrowing path back to a



"Timeless and vast... The raw beauty of Ms. Groff's prose is one of the best things about Arcadia. But it is by no means this book's only kind of splendor."—-Janet Maslin, The New York Times"

Even the most incidental details vibrate with life Arcadia wends a harrowing path back to a fragile, lovely place you can believe in."—-Ron Charles, The Washington Post

In the fields of western New York State in the 1970s, a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this romantic utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday. Arcadia's inhabitants include Handy, the charismatic leader; his wife, Astrid, a midwife; Abe, a master carpenter; Hannah, a baker and historian; and Abe and Hannah's only child, Bit. While Arcadia rises and falls, Bit, too, ages and changes. He falls in love with Helle, Handy's lovely, troubled daughter. And eventually he must face the world beyond Arcadia.

In Arcadia, Groff displays her literary gifts to stunning effect."

Fascinating."-People (****)"

It's not possible to write any better without showing off."—-Richard Russo, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Empire Falls"


Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Lauren Groff] has taken a quaint, easily caricatured community and given it true universality . . . And a book that might have been small, dated and insular winds up feeling timeless and vast. The raw beauty of Ms. Groff's prose is one of the best things about "Arcadia." But it is by no means this book's only kind of splendor."—Janet Maslin, The New York Times"

Lauren Groff's first book was a wonder and a delight What a happy relief to discover Groff's second novel is even better [than The Monsters of Templeton]. Not every young writer lives up to the promise of a first book, but Groff has exceeded expectations. Riveting."—Miami Herald"

[A] beautifully crafted novel Groff's second novel, after the well-received The Monsters of Templeton (2008), gives full rein to her formidable descriptive powers, as she summons both the beauty of striving for perfection and the inevitable devastation of failing so miserably to achieve it."—Booklist (Starred Review)"

Groff's beautiful prose make this an unforgettable read."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)"

I was constantly torn between wanting to gulp down this book or savor its lines. Even the most incidental details vibrate with life. . . . Groff's miracle is to record the death of the fantasy but then show how the residue of affection can persist and, given the right soil, sprout again. Arcadia wends a harrowing path back to a fragile, lovely place you can believe in."—Ron Charles, The Washington Post"

Richly peopled and ambitious and oh, so lovely, Lauren Groff's Arcadia is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I've read in a long time. It's not possible to write any better without showing off."—Richard Russo, author of the novel That Old Cape Magic and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls"

Part Stone Diaries, part Lord of the Flies, part something out of a Shakespearean tragedy, Lauren Groff's Arcadia is so uniquely absorbing that you finish it as if waking from a dream. Groff is one of our most talented writers, and Arcadia one of the most revelatory, magical, and ambitious novels I've read in years."—Kate Walbert, author of the New York Times bestselling novel A Short History of Women"

Arcadia feels true, as do the characters who populate this extraordinary novel, which lingers on passing moments in time and highlights the importance of place in preserving not only our memories, but also ourselves."—Hannah Tinti, author of the bestselling and award-winning novel The Good Thief"

Lauren Groff's honed prose dazzles. With Arcadia, Groff has crafted a fresh novel out of an old literary theme - you can't go home again - by focusing on a protagonist who never stops trying to do so."—Dallas Morning News"


Lauren Groff's second novel, Arcadia, is so tenderly moving it actually swells the heart."—New York Daily News"

Arcadia builds its power in a subtle cumulative way. Somehow the author manages an epic sweep with her narrative, yet one that also feels intimate and concentrated [Groff] offers an ending that's both tragic and hopeful..."—Newsday"

A moving look at the value of human connection in a scary, chaotic world."—Entertainment Weekly"

An astonishing novel, both in ambition and achievement, filled with revelations that appear inevitable in retrospect, amid the cycle of life and death . A novel of "the invisible tissue of civilization," of "community or freedom," and of the precious fragility of lives in the balance."—Kirkus (Starred Review)

Product Details

Hachette Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Lauren Groff is the author of The Monsters of Templeton, shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers; Delicate Edible Birds, a collection of short stories; and Fates and Furies, a National Book Award finalist. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Tin House, One Story, McSweeney's, and Ploughshares, and in the anthologies 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and three editions of The Best American Short Stories. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and two sons.

Brief Biography

Gainesville, FL, USA
Date of Birth:
July 23, 1978
Place of Birth:
Cooperstown, NY, USA
BA English and French Literature, Amherst College, 201: MFA in Fiction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006

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Arcadia 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
RichardSutton More than 1 year ago
There are books I've read that resonate long after they have been finished. Arcadia will be one of them. Arcadia was recommended in NY Times Books Editor Janet Maislin's Best Books of 2012 article, and while I don't usually follow many suggestions, in this case, reading the blurb struck in inner chord. The author found the unusual combination of a lyrical writing voice and perfect pacing in a story filled with multiple levels of emotion, discord and one of the most evocative settings I've read in recent fiction. Arcadia is the story of a young boy growing into manhood in and through his Vegan commune upbringing. Ms. Gross has presented one of the most generous, even-handed portrayals of the spirit of the utopian ideals that founded communal experiments all over this country in the 1960s and 70s. Setting the book in upstate New York, long a hothouse of utopian villages and communities, was a perfect decision. Her sense of place is seamlessly integrated into her writing, and the lack of info-dumping made for a noticeably quick read. Having lived myself, in a commune in the West in the early 1970s, her story line contained many scenes that seemed to spring right out of my own experiences. In many ways, Arcadia became a personal journey for me as well. There were many mistakes made in the scramble to produce a new world and a better way to cement true community, Many are still ongoing, and this book, in all its loving attention to detail and its deep understanding of how young boys become men, reminds us of the rewards that taking risks can provide. It is one of the best novels I've read in some time, so I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates a well-told, deeply emotional story and has an interest in those times and how they still live on today in the lives of all us old, ex-hippies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I began this book with a little skepticism, but it was soon negated. The author, Lauren Groff, writes so lyrically and beautifully that I was quickly pulled into the story. The setting is one that I haven't seen explored very often - a hippie commune beginning in the 60s. The story follows one of the children through to adulthood and his experience in the outside world. I so look forward to seeing what Ms. Groff continues to write...she is only 35!
kalevala More than 1 year ago
Loved the assortment of commune characters! Sad when the book ended, as I wanted it to continue. Has a feminist flare, importance of women in the role of keeping society together. Friendships. Betrayals. A wonderful life cycle read, with Bit as central male character. Addresses the role of societies, freedom or control? Why did communes fail? What happens when global warming worsens? If there is a pandemic? The story spans the 1960s through 2018s or later. Plan on reading her othe book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the most haunting books i have ever read. Born in 62 less than 60 miles from where woodtock took place i have always been fascinated my hippie culture and coomune movement. This novel shows the good the bad and ugly...from the childrens point of view. Effected me more than any book i have read in years. Felt characters were people i knew that stayed with long after i read the final page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had no idea what the author's intentions where for this book.   Throughout the book, I could not keep up with the story line with the usage of her words.  Were the thoughts coming from her writings or of the characters speaking?  There were no quotation marks when people were speaking.  I skimmed the whole book and in the end had no idea what she was trying to say.  Extremely disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story of a young boy growing up in a commune in the 70's and his life through adulthood. Lauren Groff's writing is poetic - this book definitly takes your breath away
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought about Bit for weeks after finishing and HATED for it to end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A peek into a utopian society and the repercussions of itself and the world on its fundamental idealism and its members. Complex characters that will stay with me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book over a weekend, it was awesome the way she followed the character though out his life continuing on well into adulthood. She didn't leave you wondering what happed to Bit she told you all about him and his life. Great book.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Once again the daily find overview is not in English. DOES ANYONE AT B&N READ THESE THINGS????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A mesmerizing tale of a commune and its variedinhabitants told through the story of one inhabitant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dreamlike, gritty, engaging - I recommend it to book lovers.
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Annoyed by self absorbed characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable read but with a very sullen second half
Anonymous More than 1 year ago