This is one of those books which I liked quite a lot, but I'm struggling to express why. I also suspect there's a lot of philosophical subtext going on that flew straight over my head. I was a bit put off by the introduction where the author cites her use of characters from James Fenimore Cooper, as I've never read anything by him, but it didn't seem to matter too much.
The basic plot involves Wilhelmina Upton, a Stanford paleantology student, who returns to her home town of Templeton, pregnant and unhappy after an affair with a married man, on the same day that the corpse of a huge, unknown beast is found floating in the town's lake. Then she learns that the story her mother has always told her about her father is a lie and that he is really someone she knows in the town.
Willie turns her research skills on to the mystery of her parentage and in the process unearths a great many secrets about the history of the town.
I think one of the things I like about the book is the atmosphere and the feeling of history that Groff brings to her fictional town. It has a pleasing air of authenticity spiced with elements of the supernatural. Willie is not the sort of character I'd normally like very much - adultery generally loses a character my sympathy in short order unless there are clearly extenuating circumstances - but somehow I was drawn into her point of view anyway.
I shall definitely look for more books by this author.