Ida Claire is Addison's quirky twist on Southern food. They offer their version of fried chicken, grits, and biscuits with a gourmet flair. To boot, they serve interesting cocktails like "The Casablanca" and "Oh, Bee-Have." Overall the food was tasty for most of us (though my "Bird of Paradise" with cornbread-pecan romesco was too salty to really enjoy). Afterward, you should order the chocolate "Vice" cake, which comes pierced by a piece of candied bacon, or try the Chia Chai Pear Pie, which we liked even better. Don't let the hands in the wall grab you.
One such monster is Wilhelmina Upton--our protagonist. After managing to royally ruin her life by sleeping with her professor, Willie returns to her little New York town to see her one-time hippie mother Vi, and Vi has another terrible surprise in store for Willie--her real father is not, in fact, a random hippie on a commune; instead, he's someone who lives in the town where everyone knows and is related to everyone else. Over the course of the novel, Willie traces her family's complicated genealogy in search of the answer, and along the way we meet some outrageous people from Templeton's past with names like Remarkable Prettybones, Marmaduke, and Cinnamon (Many of these characters are borrowed and adapted from works by James Fenimore Cooper, which Groff tells us in her introduction) . Also there are literal monsters and ghosts. It's hard to imagine this book getting much better.
We did have a few criticisms: some of us didn't care for the epistolary sections or for the unabashed recklessness of the main character, and the ending of the book is perhaps a little too perfect, but Groff proves she has strong literary and storytelling chops in this novel. Kristen swears that we need to read Groff's recent Fates and Furies, and after the success of The Monsters of Templeton, I'm looking forward to it.
We all dreamt of the beast, its long-fingered hands, its delicate neck. We imagined ourselves lodged in its ancient brain, saw the dark water before us as it swam so fast in the cold depths. The leaf-thin shimmy of the moon through all that water.
Outside, bats swirled and dipped over the pool-pond and a mallard slid into the water from his butt, like an old lady in a green bathing cap out for a crepuscular dip.