My friend S introduced me to Lauren Groff after I told her I had given up on Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! S told me she liked Monsters of Templeton a lot better, and after borrowing her copy, I heartily agreed. I also really liked Arcadia and was excited that Fates and Furies was nominated for a National Book Award.
Fates and Furies focuses on the making and unmaking of a marriage in two acts. You must have one with the other, and each completes the other in a way you never thought possible. Lotto and Mathilde meet and marry at 22, and after years of famine, success finally hits. But all is not as it seems. Devastating secrets threaten to tear apart the stable fabric of family they have knitted together. The first act focuses on Lotto, the Fate: golden boy, lover of all women, smitten by Mathilde, which changes the trajectory of his playboy future. His voice is cloying, entitled, infuriating, smug. And yet I couldn’t hate him. And then, there’s Mathilde, the Fury: self-fashioned, coldly beautiful, struggling, pure, yet secretive. Mathilde’s voice makes this novel sensational, in my opinion. Mathilde’s life changes everything we know about Lotto’s, and it is in these secrets that we understand the complexities of a long-term relationship. When I read Mathilde, I read the unmaking and remaking of their marriage, and it is *raw.* But hers is a genuine voice, unveiling the ways in which marriage is made, and built, and maintained.
When I read the first 100 pages, I was not sure I would like this book. But now, I am haunted by it. I originally gave it a five-star review, which I’ve since revised to a 4 (which I think more fitting of the book overall). But it’s still well worth the read, especially if you can make it past Lotto to Mathilde.