For two hundred years, painters, poets and musicians have come to the Catskill Mountain village of Arcadia Falls to escape the pressures of modern life and pursue their artistic visions, and Arcadia College was founded with a mission to nurture young artists and writers.
When Meg Rosenthal gets an offer to teach at Arcadia College, it seems a godsend – an escape from a life that’s fallen apart. She hopes, too, that Arcadia Falls will be a place where she and her daughter Sally can find some peace and reconciliation.
But even though Arcadia Falls proves to be even more beautiful then Meg imagined, it is hardly peaceful. Soon she begins to realize that the public story behind the school conceals deceit, betrayal, and perhaps even murder. As Meg struggles to reconcile the choices she’s made in her own life, she begins to fear that by coming to Arcadia Falls she’s put herself and her daughter in danger.
I found this book to be a little slow when I first started reading it, but within a few chapters it started to take a hold of me. The more I read the more gripped I got, by the last third I found it hard to tear myself away from it.
The plot centres around Meg, a grieving widow who takes a job at Arcadia Falls because the death of her husband has left her and her daughter Sally finding it hard to make ends meet. It has the added bonus of being a school with a strong artistic heritage, Sally is a talented artist and Meg’s own research interests into folklore and fairy tales seem an ideal match. The day they arrive at the school is First Night, a school celebration based on an ancient fertility rite. When this ritual ends disastrously Meg starts to wonder about the school she has brought her daughter to and starts digging but doesn’t like what she finds.
I really liked Meg. I found her to be an interesting character and really enjoyed the parts of the story where she was teaching – it felt at times like I was sitting there in the classroom along with her pupils and I found myself thinking about my own answers to the questions she was posing. I found Sally, her daughter, harder to like but I feel she was really well written. The sense of turmoil following the loss of her father and the move from everything familiar she was experiencing really came through.
The book has plenty of twists and turns as it progresses. The last few chapters twist back and forward so much that I found myself reading slower to make sure everything was sinking in. I liked this particularly as just when I thought the author couldn’t trick me again another twist unfolded on the page.
I enjoyed this book and I imagine I’ll read more by the author in the future.
Arcadia Falls is published in paperback by Piatkus in the UK from today priced £7.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.