#248 ~ Arcadia Falls

Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman

Published by: Ballantine Books

Published on: March 9, 2010

Page Count: 386

Genre: General Fiction

Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher

Availability: Hardcover, large print paperback, eBook (Nook), and audio book

My Review

Shortly after the untimely death of her husband, Meg Rosenthal must accept a teaching position at a private arts school in an upstate New York town called Arcadia Falls in order to support herself and her teenage daughter, Sally.  Sally is none too excited about the change this is making in her life and takes her resentment out on her mother.  Luckily for both women, they both find themselves content, if not happy, with the new somewhat mysterious atmosphere.  Despite the death of a popular student within the first week of their arrival, Sally fits in with a group of students and opts to move on campus.  Meg wishes that she could be closer to her daughter, but adjusts to living in her cottage alone.  She finds a passion for teaching about folk stories and develops a good report with her students.  Meg overlooks increasingly frequent eerie and unsettling things until she and her daughter are caught up entirely in the danger.

What I liked most about this book was the relationship between Meg and Sally.  Given their circumstances, they were both realistic and honest to themselves.  Meg doesn’t want her daughter to think poorly of her father and keeps the details about the origins of their financial situation from her.  Sally in turn doesn’t understand why everything has to change and blames her mother for everything.  It’s interesting how we’d protect the memory of a dead person at the cost of our own.  I can easily see myself doing it.  I can just as easily see myself reacting like Sally.

There were a couple of things that stuck out for me while reading this book.  I thought Meg was a smart and talented woman.  I do not, however, believe even the most brilliant person can walk into their first teaching position as seamlessly as a seasoned professor.  I also kept thinking that she seemed a little slow on the uptake when it came to putting the pieces together.  Once a few ominous things happened, I expected her to dig in to the mystery.  I had to put myself in her shoes.  She just got a job there and wouldn’t assume that anything sinister was going on.  I had remind myself that I had the advantage as the reader.  I knew there was something not right happening there.  There was also a twist to the story that was a little much.  It’s not that it didn’t work for me per se.  I just thought it was overkill.

Final Thoughts

While the story as a whole isn’t groundbreaking or as suspenseful as I had hoped it would be, I enjoyed Arcadia Falls.  It was fun to spend time in a folk tale-worthy world.


  • At 2010.04.20 12:57, Jen-Girls Gone Reading said:

    As a teacher, I am not sure that this book would be for me. You are right-it is completely unrealistic for someone to jump into their first teaching job and nail it. I have struggled for years to become adequate. I do, however, like the idea of dramatic irony in the work. It is always interesting when the reader knows something the character(s) doesn’t(don’t). It allows the reader to think: would I act in a similar manner? is this a reliable narrator?

    I found this idea of dramatic irony especially useful in A Reliable Wife-have you read it? That particular novel allows you to see both of the main characters’ motives and watch them fall in their pursuits.

    Thanks for an interesting review…I always appreciate it!

    • At 2010.04.20 13:16, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      Sounds interesting even with its faults.

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      • At 2010.04.21 05:54, Marg said:

        I have read a number of Goodman’s books now. Some work better than others for me. I have this one out from the library at the moment.

        • At 2010.04.26 15:06, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

          Hmm. I just got a copy of this, but good to know I shouldn’t set my expectations *too* high.

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