Lauren Groff: Fates and Furies

*Potential for spoilers.

Fates and Furies CoverRating: 3/5
Publisher: Windmill Books
Publication Date: July 7th 2016

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

Fates and Furies is a novel told from two differing perspectives within a seemingly perfect marriage. Fates focuses on the whimsical and career driven Lotto who believes his marriage to be without flaw but believes himself to be lucky to have married a girl such as Mathilde, whilst Furies is told from the more honest and hard-hitting point of view of Mathilde revealing the truths behind their marriage and, ultimately, spinning their marriage on its head to unveil that their marriage isn’t all sunshine and roses.

I really loved the two altering perspectives shown within this novel. They both possess different tones of voice which really set the story and help to understand the characters and their motives. Lotto seems to be the more loved up of the two, appreciating Mathilde and the work she puts in to keeping them in stable living conditions but, he is also the more egotistical of the two. He adores the attention he receives within his work and loves to be loved by everyone else. Whereas Mathilde always seems to be hiding something away, putting on a brave and smiling face throughout in order to save face. These come about through the tone of voice, writing style and language used in both perspectives.

In my opinion, and it seems many others (based on reviews I have skimmed through) is that Lotto’s perspective is long-winded and drawn out. His perspective covers more than half of the novel, and it is only when reading Furies that it becomes clear why as Mathilde breaks down the truth of Fates and the brings to the fore the truths and lies that were hidden behind the facade presented by Lotto. However, Lotto’s perspective was frequently interrupted with scenes from his many plays and how they came about, something which I didn’t fully understand its role within the overarching narrative of the story. Though it becomes evident what significance these plays have within the narrative and Lotto’s own life, they draw out the narrative longer than is really required causing the pacing to slow and drag.

One thing that immediately nagged at me from the offset of the novel was the language used by the narrators. Long, synonymous words were used in place of others often leaving me confused as to the context and these words often didn’t fit into place with the time span of that section of the narrative. The beginning of the novel started off with Lotto in his teenage years but the language was far more academic than would be expected for his age, causing me to question whether I had misread the age of the character and the perspective it was being told in. Similarly, there was a lot of disjointed sentences (in my opinion) using metaphors or phrases that didn’t sit well with me and held no meaning towards the scene in context. I could not understand why something was being described in a certain way when there was no mention within scene, action, or character to suggest otherwise.

Overall, this book held me purely for the perspective on the marriage and the different take on romance it portrayed. It wasn’t all lovey-dovey but held a more realistic perspective with twists and turns following Mathilde’s refreshing depiction on what their marriage was really like. In that respect, I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a different outlook on romance fiction but found the writing to be too heavily riddled with words I had never heard of before.

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