Monday, September 19, 2016

Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies
Title: Fates and Furies
Author: Lauren Groff
Publication Date: 9/15/15
Pages: 390
How I Found It: I've been wanting to read a Groff novel for a while now.
Date Completed: 8/2/16

Summary: Fates and Furies tells the story of Mathilde and Lotto. First, with Lotto as hero and playwright extraordinaire. Then, focused on Mathilde, her dark history and the differences between who the world sees and who she really is.

What I Thought: I have to start this post by admiring Groff's writing skill. It's where the conversation about this book must start. Just read those quotes below. I loved them for reasons other than their literary beauty, but they serve as lovely examples all the same. Groff's writing is so polished. It's how I want to write, how things sound in my head and never quite make it to paper. On nearly every page, I marveled at her skill and command over words. Certainly, the end product we see comes after much blood, sweat, and tears. Every once in a great while, I write one sentence of which I am incredibly proud and which utterly exhausts me. To write a book full of such writing.... I am in awe.

I say all this fully knowing that Groff's style isn't going to be for everyone. Yet, she writes in a voice so close to the one I would love to cultivate.

I cannot believe I haven't read a Groff book before. She's been on my radar for years, but I had never actually picked one up until this summer. Fates and Furies has gotten a lot of online buzz in the year since its release. It seemed about time to pick it up and find out for myself.

Groff has crafted an intense, vivid picture of marriage and fallibility. She explores the difference between the person we each present to the world, the person we imagine ourselves to be, and the person we truly are in our deepest heart. It's a striking contrast and few of us are as aware of the distinctions between identities as Mathilde is. 

Throughout the first half of the book, Groff focuses on Lotto. Mathilde is an integral part of the story, but more as an important piece of scenery than someone having any tangible influence on the direction of Lotto's life and success. He is constantly battling his own ego, his inner demons and desires, the expectation of greatness. To title his part of the story 'Fates' is so on point in the best way - not too blatant or cheesy, but a brilliant apt description of what controls the man's psyche and work. 

When the story pivots to Mathilde, we see the 'Furies.' Suddenly, we realize she is not the woman we thought she was all along. Both we and Lotto have been fooled by a poised exterior. She has rage boiling under the surface and has all along. Her power over her circumstances and Lotto's is shocking. She is a master manipulator and actress. She has played the long game and now, after unexpected changes, she finds herself trying to understand the picture she has painted. She is fascinating, fierce, and fearsome. 

I so appreciated Groff's harsh look at relationships and marriage, in particular. Her characters are deeply flawed, as is their marriage in many ways, but they still hold that relationship in such esteem. I loved seeing marriage as something so real and broken and beautiful. It's not often that you see such an honest literary picture of the union. 

The novel is certainly not for everyone. There's a good deal of adult content, though I did think most of it played a role in telling and advancing the story and characters. So, if you do pick it up (and I recommend you do), be ready for the dark humor and deviant acts of these characters. 

In my eyes, Groff has written a really incredible novel. I understand why there has been so much buzz about it. The story is engaging and interesting. The characters are complex and true to life. The writing is stunning. I will absolutely be picking up more of her work in the near future.

Quotes I Loved: 

  • "They had been married for seventeen years; she lived in the deepest room in his heart. And somethings that meant that wife occurred to him before Mathilde, helpmeet before herself."
  • "It comes over us that we shall never again hear the laughter of our friend, that this garden is forever locked against us. And at that moment begins our true grief."

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Possibly
If You Liked This, Try: The Ramblers / The Magus / Blindness

A Reduced Review: This dark story of ego, destiny, and love soared because of its complex characters and the eloquent writing. 

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