Fates and Furies by Lauren Goff
I first experienced the writing of Lauren Groff in Matrix, her latest book, which took my breath away. Fates & Furies came out in 2015 to rapturous praise, chosen as book of the year by Obama, Amazon, & nominated for a number of awards. I ordered this without looking at the synopsis & dived right in.
A book of two halves, the prose is fragmented, giving us snippets of time back & forth over the lives of Lancelot “Lotto” Satterwhite & Mathilde Yoder, who meet in college & marry two weeks later in a fit of passion. Lotto fails as an actor in New York City, then succeeds, as a playwright. For the first 100 pages, whilst I loved the melodious writing & intricate way Groff depicts the world, I just didn’t understand the point, it seemed to meander with no direction or purpose.
Then we get to the marriage from Mathilde’s perspective, & as more is revealed & the plot gains speed I found it much more engrossing. The disparity in their upbringings, the sacrifices made & how they view each other is such a fascinating demonstration of love & how a couple living the same life can see & feel so differently.
The reviews on goodreads demonstrate how this one has split the crowd, ranging from this is the best book I have ever read to what on earth is this, didn’t get past the first fifty pages. It is long & dense, but I loved that in the middle there were scenes from Lotto’s plays interspersed with the text that gave insight into the creatives process & was a clever narrative tool.
There were many times I stopped to luxuriate in the writing, her ability to shift perspective or transport you to an emotion is so deftly done. An ode to marriage, mythology & the theatre, this is also a commentary on normative gender roles, sacrifice & grief, with characters that veer from likeable to deplorable.
By the end I was racing through, the book does seem to shift with a few more thriller-esque strands that I wasn’t expecting. Intensely clever literary fiction, I went from questioning why I was reading this to not wanting this book to end (the ending is satisfying but felt rushed).
Have you read this or any of Groff’s books? Let me know! C