Ms. Groff has taken a quaint, easily caricatured community and given it true universality, not just the knee-jerk kind that Arcadian platitudes espoused. Even more unexpectedly, she has expanded this period piece so that it stretches from 1965 to 2018, coaxing forth a remarkable amount of suspense from the way her characters change over time. And a book that might have been small, dated and insular winds up feeling timeless and vast.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
Lauren Groff's second novel, Arcadia, arrives bearing enthusiastic blurbs from Kate Walbert and Richard Russo…But readers doomed to miss their subway stops will wish the cover also included a warning: "This novel will swallow you whole"…The book's real treat…is Groff's writing. As in her first novel, The Monsters of Templeton, Groff's sentences are lush and visual…Her descriptions of the young Bit, meanwhile, uncannily illuminate the hidden world of children.
John Wilwol - New York Times Book Review
Page by page through Lauren Groff's story about a hippie commune in western New York, I kept worrying that it was too good to last. Not the commune—it's a mess from the start—I'm talking about the novel, which unfolds one moment of mournful beauty after another…Arcadia offers something surprising: if not a redemption of utopian ideals, then at least a complicated defense of the dream…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 - Washington Post
(Starred review.) Groff’s dark, lyrical examination of life on a commune follows Bit, aka Little Bit, aka Ridley Sorrel Stone, born in the late ’60s in a spot that will become Arcadia, a utopian community his parents help to form.... Groff’s beautiful prose make this an unforgettable read.
Groff...eschews counterculture stereotypes to bring Bit's interior and exterior worlds to life. Her exquisite writing makes the reader question whether to hurry up to read the next beautiful sentence or slow down and savor each passage. Highly recommended. —Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
(Starred review.) This beautifully crafted novel follows Bit Stone, the first child to be born in the late 1960s on an upstate New York commune.... [Groff] 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. —Joanne Wilkinson
(Starred review.) An astonishing novel, both in ambition and achievement, filled with revelations that appear inevitable in retrospect.... A novel of "the invisible tissue of civilization," of "community or freedom," and of the precious fragility of lives in the balance.
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