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Arcadia [Audio CD]

Lauren Groff
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks; Unabridged Audiobook edition (1 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471213021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471213021
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,594,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

In the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s, several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what becomes a famous commune centred on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. The Arcadians rise and fall across three generations and what evolves is an astonishingly beautiful and gripping novel. Arcadia follows this lyrical, rollicking and tragic utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arcadia 18 April 2012
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel tells the story of Ridley Sorrel Stone, nicknamed Bit - "the littlest bit of a hippie ever made!" when he is the first baby born to a group of travelling hippies, who finally establish a commune centred around the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Bit is the son of Abe and Hannah and the group is led by the charismatic musician Handy. This is the time of Vietnam and what begins as a few dozen idealists grows and establishes itself. To my mind, the parts set during Bit's childhood are the most fascinating, because, of course, people being human nothing can remain as idealistic as it sounds. Abe challenges Handy's authority, Hannah suffers depression, there is hunger, cold, lack of housing, drugs, hardship and hard work. However, this extreme isolation is not always seen as negative. Although the author shows the rise and downfall of Arcadia, it is obvious that Bit does not see the experience as something to run from and he carries many of the dreams and aspirations of his younger years into his adulthood, along with 'family' ties to others from the commune.

In reality, this is a family saga of sorts, with the community providing Bit with the family he needs into his adulthood - with all its ups and downs, problems and difficulties. I enjoyed this novel a lot and wished, in fact, that it had been longer. Bit is a wonderful character, so sweet and kind, and it is really refreshing to have a central male character represented in this unstereotypical way - neither macho, nor violent, but sensitive and gentle. Interesting take on a social experiment and would be an ideal book for reading groups, with much to discuss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Utopia and what came after 16 April 2012
By Marleen TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
It is the 1970 and a group of idealists, lead by Handy, a charismatic musician, establish a commune near an old and dilapidated house called Arcadia. Here they want to create their ideal community free from commercialism and violence.
Ridley Sorrel Stone is born to Hannah and Abe, two of the original Arcadians. Since he is a tiny baby he is called (little) Bit, a name that sticks and will be with him for life.
Bit grows up in Arcadia and flourishes in the close-knit community where he knows everybody, is close to nature and feels safe. For 14 years he has no contact with the outside world, a place that scares him, and watches as Arcadia grows, flourishes and then falls victim to its own success, growing too big with too many people who have their own ideas of how the commune should operate. Just before Bit's paradise falls apart Bit discovers his love for Helle, the troubled girl he grew up with who now takes over his thoughts. A girl he finds himself loving and loathing at much the same time.
It is one night of out of control partying when Bit is 14 that ends with the police raiding the commune and ending Bit's life in the only place he has ever known. One night the consequences of which force him and his parents out into the big world Bit is not sure he is ready to face, away from the people he grew up with, knows and loves.
Thirty years later Bit still doesn't feel at home in the world he now finds himself living him and his obsession with Helle stays as strong as always now that there are new ties that bind him to her although she is as vulnerable and self-destructive as always.
The question is if Bit will ever realise that he can't recreate the past or live there?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When utopia fails 11 April 2012
By Elka
Format:Hardcover
A book of three parts, Arcadia begins the story of a hippie commune and it's beginnings, hiatus and fall.
The original members led by Handy, a charismatic musician, are donated Arcadia a decaying mansion and attempt to create a utopian society and we follow their highs and lows. The story follows Bit, the first baby of the commune, and his alternative childhood and coming of age as he watches his seemingly idyllic life disintergrate as disillusionment sets in and the commune is ultimately a victim of it's own success.

Years on and part 2, Bit is an adult and along with all the Arcadia survivors and children attempting to adjust to life outside, many unsurprisingly rebelling against the models they grew up with.
Part 3 jumps ahead yet more years to 2018 and with the original members now aging and a deadly flu-type virus spreading globally.

The story of Arcadia's structure, society and characters was fascinating and I wanted more; more idealistic/political disagreements, more break ups, more economic and power struggles. It's a shame that the book jumps so far ahead in the second part as the impact of what happens to these original characters when they are forced back out into the modern world is slightly lost in the time jump.

The Monsters of Templeton was my favourite book of 2010 and whilst Arcadia for me is not in the same league it is yet again very different and distinctive.
A moving story of another world with yet again extra-ordinary characters and memorable women in particular.

I read this on my Kindle, e-book from NetGalley.
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