October’s meetup marked the 2 year anniversary of the best book club of all time – and yes, I’m completely biased. We met at Victoria’s to discuss Arcadia by Lauren Groff and party down! Festivities included a White Elephant-esque book gift exchange, a huge gift basket raffle (congrats Jennifer!), and one awesome bookish cake.
While we had all of the fun activities planned, we also made time to discuss our book of the month – Arcadia. The story begins in the late 60s and follows Bit from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood as his life is shaped by the commune he’s born into and the people he meets there. Yes, there are many, many hippies.
The ladies had strong feelings about this book. Many were not fans and weren’t afraid to share their disappointment. Others found the human connection to nature, the history of commune living, and some of the individual characters fascinating. The naysayers disapproved of the slow nature of the plot and how nothing really happens – EVER. Arcadia truly is a character study – brief glimpses into the positives and negatives of a free society hidden away from mainstream consumerism, but ultimately destroyed by a leader with a messiah complex.
Some members praised Groff’s powerful women and how often women really were the backbone of the novel. I, personally, loved that the novel didn’t preach HIPPIES ARE AWESOME or HIPPIES ARE THE DEVIL! Instead, Groff expertly showcased the pros, the cons, and everything between. Unfortunately, the hippies fell flat for me and the story just wasn’t my cup of tea.
While Arcadia didn’t win a ton of new fans, it definitely managed to incite some great conversations about communal living, education, humanity’s relationship with nature (we might have talked about snakes for 15 minutes), and porn. Because we always end at porn – some how, some way.