Originally, the premise sounded a little well-worn -- young, ambitious female scholar has affair with professor, it ends badly, she goes home to small town to recover. However, the fact that she tries to run her professor's wife down with a bush plane piqued my interest enough for me to read on, and I'm very glad I did. Although The Monsters of Templeton is a very fast read, it's not a popcorn book - Groff's prose-style alone precludes that. In fact, it's her prose that makes the novel stand-out. Well, her prose and the novel's structure.
While the unifying thread is that of Willie Upton, the ambitious female scholar with the bush plane, the novel wouldn't be half as interesting if it were only about her (the only real weakness I found in the book were some minor elements of her characterization that didn't quite ring true. But then, that's a matter of personal taste...).
Groff expands the narrative to include the entire town of Templeton including its settlement, the "monster" in Lake Glimmerglass and Willie's venerable family tree. As Willie solves the mystery of her parentage, the history of her family and town unfolds through letters, journals and the fictional work of a fictional genius. From a structural point of view, I enjoyed all of that because I'm a structure geek, but neat structure doesn't necessarily guarantee enjoyable reading. However, Groff peppers in so many dark, humorous and, frankly odd, elements -- a spinster with pyrokinesis, a charming murderess with a cross-dressing sister, a benign, violet colored ghost with a penchant for cleanliness, and the aforementioned "monster" in the lake (which I though to be the loveliest character in book) -- that it's hard not to be charmed by the narrative itself.
And so, because of all of these things and others that I would rather not spoil, The Monsters of Templeton was a lovely read and I very much recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of a look at the dark side, without tipping over the edge.