[Review] Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff

Title of Book: Fates and Furies
Author: Lauren Groff
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Year: 2015
Language: English
Format: Hardback
Pages: 390

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.

There are two sides of story in a relationship, including Lotto and Mathilde’s. They met unexpectedly in a party. It was love at a first sight, at least for Lotto it was. Then they got married. Fates and Furies chronicles the life of their marriage over the span of twenty-four years. As Lotto and Mathilde came from different upbringing, their world views are also differs. Through this book, we’ll see how it affects Lotto’s and Mathilde’s marriage.

Fates and Furies consists of two parts. Reflective to the title, the first part is called Fates and the second one is called Furies. Fates tells the story of their marriage through Lotto’s eyes while Furies is told through Mathilde’s. These two complement each other. Since Lotto’s part comes first, we’ll learn later how Mathilde’s fill in the gaps in Lotto’s story and wrap the story nicely (or not so much) in the end.

Fates opens with a scene from when Lotto and Mathilde got married. From there then we go backward a bit to learn more about The Satterwhites and Lotto’s childhood. Lotto lives a privileged life. He came from a prosperous family in Florida and he’s quite a charmer. Always so popular with girls, Lotto lives an easy life. That is until he met Mathilde and decided to marry her at such a young age. His mother disapproves their marriage so she cut off Lotto from the family money. Thus begin his financial struggle. However, growing up the way he was, he doesn’t seem to aware of the difficulty that his small family has. Moreover, at the beginning of his married life, he didn’t make much as an actor. Later, he found out that his talent is more in the screenplay writing area. Things start looking up financially but as with life, another problem arise.

Furies follows Mathilde at much later stage in life. She’s grieving and while she does that, she reminisces her past, starting from way before she met Lotto. This is when we get to know Mathilde better. It is through this part of the book that we’ll also learn about the same event in their marriage that’s already told in Fates but from Mathilde’s eyes.

As I wrote earlier, there are two sides of story in a relationship and it’s reflected well in the split narrative of this book. An example is Lotto and Mathilde’s first meeting in the party. Lotto’s narrative comes off as one of those meet-cute scenarios in a romantic comedy movies while Mathilde’s hold nothing special over it. Another example is Mathilde as a character. In Fates, not much is known about Mathilde. As a reader, we meet her through Lotto’s eyes. Since Lotto was head over heels for her, his judgement of Mathilde was biased. We’ll meet the true Mathilde in Furies; the raw and rough version of her. I’d say Fates and Furies is not only a book about marriage but also about perspective and perception.

I’ll be honest when I first picked this book I didn’t know what it’s about other than a marriage. People seem to like it though so I brave myself and read it. I didn’t expect to find such a compelling and thrilling story. I was skeptical at first, fearing it would be boring. It’s not boring at all. Although the writing style scared me a bit. I feel like this book is written like a Greek tragedy especially Mathilde’s part. It also has such rich and lyrical prose which is both beautiful and intimidating to me because I don’t read many books like it.

What I like about this book is the attention to details. If you read the book you’ll know how different the narrative style between Lotto and Mathilde which speaks to their characters. Also, if you read carefully the details or info that seem mundane or insignificant in the first half of the book, they can be delightfully revelatory in the second half. I love the satisfaction of realizing how the pieces fit together in the end. It was such a pleasant reading experience for me. In conclusion, I highly recommend this book.

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