Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Arcadia Falls

This book bears distinct resemblance to Goodman's earlier Lake of Dead Languages. Both take place at elite private schools in the northeast. Both books' main characters are single mothers and teachers who move to these schools to teach under difficult circumstances. And both books rely heavily on student and faculty obsession with old myths. In Arcadia Falls the single mother in question is Meg Rosenthal, recently widowed folklore scholar, who moves herself and her daughter to a remote region of upstate New York to take a much-needed teaching job at the Arcadia School. The school began its life as a feminist artist colony, whose founders wrote and illustrated fairy tales. The school's founders, Vera Beecher and Lily Eberhart, are professional and romantic partners, but with the arrival of a charismatic sculptor at the colony, Lily finds herself in the midst of a troublesome love triangle. The consequences of this triangle will lead to Lily's death. It quickly becomes apparent to Meg that the Arcadia School is a dangerous and deadly place,not just in Lily's time, but in her own, too. The books is the retelling of three stories, that of Meg and Sally Rosenthal, that of Vera Beecher and Lily Eberhart, and the fairy tale, The Changeling Girl. Goodman does an excellent job of weaving these tales together. While the book does bear some similarities to some of Goodman's earlier work, it is not merely the same story retold. I was captivated with discovering who or what was responsible for Lily Eberhart's death. I did find that after the circumstances of Lily's death were revealed the book was neither as compelling, nor as plausible. The ending is not the most satisfying, but this was still an enjoyable and suspenseful read.

Carol Goodman, Arcadia Falls (Ballantine, 2010) ISBN:

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