Fates and Furies
A FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY: THE WASHINGTON POST, NPR, TIME, THE SEATTLE TIMES, MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE, SLATE, LIBRARY JOURNAL, KIRKUS, AND MANY MORE
“Lauren Groff is a writer of rare gifts, and Fates and Furies is an unabashedly ambitious novel that delivers – with comedy, tragedy, well-deployed erudition and unmistakable glimmers of brilliance throughout.” —The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
From the award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Florida, Matrix, and the highly-anticipated The Vaster Wilds: an exhilarating novel about marriage, creativity, art, and perception.
Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation.
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. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The writing in this dazzling novel will take your breath away. Married couple Mathilde and Lotto have the kind of life others envy—they’re beautiful, successful, wealthy, and madly in love. But perfection is an illusion. American author Lauren Groff (who wrote the enchanting Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia) finds inventive ways to burrow beneath the surface of Mathilde and Lotto’s story, revealing the troubling obstacles and secrets paving their paths.
In a swirling miasma of language, plot, and Greek mythology, Groff (Arcadia) weaves a fierce and gripping tale of true love gone asunder. Told in two interwoven parts, the fable-like story of Lancelot (Lotto) and Mathilde's 24-year marriage unfolds, first from Lotto's perspective, then Mathilde's. "Fates," the first part, takes readers through Lotto's mopey years as a failed actor living in "glamorous poverty" in New York City's Greenwich Village, his overnight success as a playwright, his struggles with aging, his perpetually hungry ego, his estrangement from his millionaire mother, and his gleeful infatuation with and dependency on his pale, bewitching wife. Meanwhile, Mathilde's all-consuming adoration for her husband doesn't completely jive with the dark secrets she's hiding from him. Of course, there's always the sex. Groff's prose is variously dewy, defiant, salacious, and bleak a hurricane of words thrown together on every page. Yet so much of the power in this book lies in what's unspoken Lotto's bottomless sorrow and self-pity flanked by Mathilde's white-hot rage and, later, her thirst for revenge. There are moments when the writing feels self-indulgent, but, for the most part, it's an intoxicating elixir. Perhaps Groff herself says it best: "It was less a story than a great creature surfacing from the deep; it was more sudden audible wave than narrative."
Enthralling, Tragic, and Beautifully Written
Seldom do I take the time to write these, even for books I enjoy, but this one definitely deserved it. Groff manages to turn the often overlooked ideal of marriage and transform it into something that borders epic, drawing parallels to some of the greatest Greek tragedies (of which Groff is a contemporary if there ever was one). Lotto and Mathilde's marriage is so ordinary, and this very idea is what makes it and them so inherently exceptional and fascinating. If this wasn't enough already, Groff interweaves two very different perspectives that share both tragic paradoxes and nuanced similarities that paint a hauntingly realistic image of the institution that is typically romanticized or condemned. All this combined with a unique prose that rivals that of Fitzgerald or Hemingway, Fates and Furies is a novel that will have you flip back the the first page after finishing the last.
The book reads like the thesis of a double major in lit and creative writing. Groff relies heavily on other works for both content and style. Classical works and Shakespeare show up a lot as well as direct and indirect references to authors like Melville and Nabokov. The beginning of Mathilde’s life is basically an alternative version of ‘A Separate Peace.”
Groff's words are pretty but empty… she is clearly far better at recognizing beautiful language than wielding it. Ultimately, the ideas in this book are not nearly as profound as her language would suggest.
If it takes 250 pages for a story to get a bit interesting, then there is something wrong there. I only had to force myself to go on because this was a book club choice. The first 200 pages was like a torture or a bad homework. The second half was only a LITTLE interesting. I didn't see any worthy issue or new point raised in this whole story for our minds to ponder on. No content worthy of discussion. ☹️