Alright, alright, alright. This book kept popping up all over the place. One of my favorite blog ladies, who can absolutely be trusted when it comes to all things books, Christine Hennessey, called it “nearly perfect.”
I decided early on, after reading the premise of the book that I didn’t need to read it. To be honest, I just wasn’t interested. However, after reading so many positive reviews, I cracked and absentmindedly added it to my holds list through my library. Well, it became available mid-week and it was a 7 day loan, so… it was now or never!
I chose now.
And. Well. I definitely liked it. Maybe I loved it? I couldn’t put it down and would think of it and wish I could read it in the midst of my buys workdays this past week. However, I’m also still mulling over everything, as the books is just packed and there’s a lot going on.
But, goodness, there are some things that this book definitely excels at, with author Lauren Groff weaving an astoundingly beautiful tapestry of words. The writing absolutely bowled me over. It was lyrical, thought-provoking, and at times intense and chaotic. And, yes, at times it rubbed me as a bit pretentious, but I was very easily able to overlook that. I was also impressed with the way she developed the two main characters, Lotto and Mathilde. This book is intensely character driven and Groff masterfully develops these characters by giving the reader each character’s past, as well as each character’s side of the story where their marriage is involved. This may be what I loved the most about Fates and Furies.
The first half of the book, Fates, is Lotto’s story. You learn about his upbringing with his doting/helicopter mother, subsequent falling out with his mother, and the way he interprets his marriage with Mathilde. Lotto’s childhood was, for the most part, privileged. He believed he was destined for greatness, that everyone and everything in his life supported his destiny. Yet he struggled as an actor and his looks began to fade and, for a time, was supported by his young wife. Then, in a fit of passion one night, he begins to write. A dazzling career as a playwright is born, and Lotto’s life shines with glory and success through the remainder of his adult years, supported by his loving wife, who appeared to do nothing but keep his life balanced and forward-moving.
The second section, Furies, focuses on Mathilde. Her upbringing was devastating and lonely (I won’t go into more detail than that, because there are so many surprises in Furies). As an adult she guarded her past and did everything she could to construct the life she always wanted with her husband. What once seemed crystal clear about Lotto’s success and marriage from his side, in actuality, was much more complicated, complex, and oftentimes messy from what is learned from Mathilde’s story.
I’m sure I’ll keep unpacking my thoughts and feelings on this book for a while. In the meantime, I can say I’m so glad I read it, despite my initial snubbing of it. This book would thrill anyone who loves books driven by strong characters, books that deal with secret lives, and stories about interpersonal relationships.