In the wake of finishing Groff’s Fates and Furies, I was left wondering what all the hype was about. For full disclosure I will admit that I listened to the audiobook, so perhaps the experience is different when reading. There is no doubt the writing was beautiful, but even that sometimes distracted from the story. Truthfully, the book struck me as a watered down Gone Girl (not in the murder sense, but rather the manipulative wife of a dopey husband sense): miserable characters making everyone around them miserable. Throw in a metaphor (or five hundred) and you’ve got Fates and Furies!
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Published by Riverhead Books on September 15th 2015
Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Narrator: Will Damron, Julia Whelan
Length: 14 hours and 9 minutes
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy from The Book Depository
Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.
Great swaths of her life were white space to her husband. What she did not tell him balanced neatly with what she did. Still, there are untruths made of words and untruths made of silences, and Mathilde had only ever lied to Lotto in what she never said.
Yuck, even re-reading that quote makes me cringe and hate Mathilde all over again. Anyway, I digress…
The book is divided into two parts: Fates, the perspective of Lotto, the husband, and Furies, the perspective of Mathilde, his wife. The story weaves these two lives together by describing the many holidays, parties, and milestones they each experience throughout their marriage. The story demonstrates that
Mathilde is a bitch it is the secrets they keep that shape the course of their spouse’s life, for better or for worse.
During Lotto’s narrative I found myself uninterested in him and his altogether unbelievable life. Lotto as a character didn’t offend me greatly, but he was a bit too dramatic for my taste. He earned himself a lot of eye-rolls. Groff’s metaphors during his section, while often so very pretty, felt so forced they became like speed bumps pacing the story (see what I did there?!). Not to mention I had no idea what direction the story was taking while in Lotto’s narrative. WTH was the point of this book? Is this about marriage? Underage sex? Plays? Operas? WHAT PEOPLE? SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT!!
When Furies began and the narration changed to Mathilde, my little brain screamed, “Nooooooo!” in horror that the whole first half of the book was about to be repeated. It took everything I had not to stop the audiobook right there (I’m being a bit dramatic, really I just kept doing the chores and listening along). Despite my complete hatred for Mathilde and her self-pity (I know that I was supposed to feel a little bit sorry for her, but her story was also unbelievable so I found myself just hating her instead), the story did pick up its pace in this half. There were some fun, unexpected twists and plot reveals that got an eyebrow raise and an audible “hmph” from me. (If you’re wondering, that’s a good thing.)
If it weren’t for the unexpected happenings at the end, I would have flushed this book down the toilet (again, I’m being dramatic, it wasn’t that bad). But the twists were fun, hence my rating.
If I could describe this book in three words it would be: 1) sex, 2) theatrics, and 3) secrets. So if that appeals to you, give it a go and let me know what you think!