On the day Willie Upton returns to her childhood home of Templeton, New York, the monster of Glimmerglass Lake dies. Willie (short for Wilhelmina) is home at the end of an affair with her professor from Stanford, which ended abruptly when his wife confronted them. Now she’s home, to the surprise of her disappointed mother, who returned home, pregnant, at eighteen when she learned that her parents had died in a tragic car accident.
Vivienne Upton was perfectly happy living life high as a kite, loving love and burning her bras until she received a notice of her parents’ deaths and returns home- pregnant. She’s always told her daughter, Willie, that the father was just some random hippy from some random orgy or something. Now that Willie is home with problems of her own, however, Vi decides to tell her the truth- her father is not one lucky hippy, but a man from Templeton who claims to have some bloodline connection to Marmaduke Temple, the founder of Templeton five generations back, from whom Vi and Willie are immediately descended.
It’s a lot to take in. Willie is outraged that her mother has kept this secret from her for so long, and now determines to discover who her father is while also trying to solve her own problems and keep a friend afloat.
The book was fantastic. It completely held my interest, the writing was glorious- there are authors every once in a while who just have such a command of language that I want to bow at their feet- the characters were sympathetic, every one of them. Every other chapter was narrated by an ancestor of Willie’s as she researched and discovered their story. Meanwhile, the book is sprinkled with photos, etchings, and prints of Willie’s relatives and constantly revised family trees filling in the generations she hadn’t really understood.
Meanwhile, in the background (subtle and unobtrusive), there are scientists and tourists in Templeton trying to figure out where exactly this bizarre lakemonster came from. Affectionately named Glimmey, the monster is a creature that most Templetonians knew was there, without having any conclusive evidence. I thought it was very clever how the historical characters, every once in a while, would mention the monster. Finally, the creature has died. At the end of the book, all the threads are tied very skillfully together. The ending is hopeful.
I’m already halfway through my next book- I can hardly put it down. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
(Also, I’m adding this one to my list.)