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Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies (2015)

by Lauren Groff

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» See also 195 mentions

English (151)  Piratical (1)  All languages (152)
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
I am very conflicted about this book. I loved Groff's [b:The Monsters of Templeton|1474628|The Monsters of Templeton|Lauren Groff|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328051913s/1474628.jpg|2881737] and liked [b:Arcadia|11866694|Arcadia|Lauren Groff|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1440680831s/11866694.jpg|16823763] so I was excited to get my hands on her latest. The first chapter was promising, but as I continued to read I grew impatient with this book and really wanted to dump it. I disliked all of the characters, and felt that with the exception of Lotto, none were well drawn, their motives remained cloaked. I felt repetitious and boring. Halfway thru the book took a different direction and all of a sudden I was transfixed. The character I was least interested in became fascinating and I had to keep reading to find out everything about her. I am glad I persevered, but still found the first half of the book dull, if not annoying! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
''There was an enormous crack in the world.''

What constitutes a successful union between two people who love each other? The ability to have the courage to mend the cracks that appear in an alarming speed as the years go by. Now, in the marriage of Lotto and Mathilde, the cracks are there from the beginning. Especially in Lotto and all they have to do is to ignore them and move on. But Groff's novel is completely devoid of cracks or any other fault for that matter. In fact, it is plain and simple, one of the most interesting, daring and honest books I've ever had the pleasure to read.

I chose to read this novel, guided by the raving reviews of many beloved friends here, in Goodreads, and attracted by the claim that Groff had been inspired by Ancient Greek Tragedy. I was surprised to see that this is not just a very well-written love story, but also an immensely beautiful trip down the historical changes that New York and its society underwent from the early 90s all the way through our troubled present. To do so through the eyes of a squad of artists, in all their vanity and sensitivity, was satisfying and, frankly, hugely entertaining.

Groff touches upon so many subjects, one wouldn't know where to begin. The way I see it, the main themes are love and aspirations. We witness a relationship that starts in a rather unorthodox way. Lotto and Mathilde get married out of the blue and then, they have to learn how to live together, how to fight the daily problems, how to know each other and come to understand themselves in the process. Their relationship is presented in such a beautiful way that even a sworn enemy of marriage (such as myself) has to take a step back and contemplate for a while.

However, in my opinion, the notion that lies at the heart of the story is the way our aspirations influence our course in life once they are fulfilled or-worse- once we realise that they have become dreams of a past that is slowly fading away...Groff's writing took me back to the time when I was studying, when me and my friends thought that we would be able to change the world once we graduate from university. Instead, we slowly found out that the world actually changed us. Worries about our families, our work, our financial status, our relationships with our loved ones, all those things that make you feel you have entered the universe of the adults and their responsibilities.

Lotto, in particular, changes route and tries to fulfill his ambitions from a different starting point. And he succeeds. Mathilde? She remains the steady rock that binds him to the present and holds their life together. There comes my only problem with the novel. Mathilde makes the decision to stop working after Lotto's success -which took a long time to take place- and becomes the wife who cleans, cooks, etc. Perhaps, she didn't want to follow her dreams, after all. Perhaps,she found fulfillment through the role of the lady of the house, perhaps she needed to cast away her own demons of the past. I don't know and I don't judge her. I respect it, but I don't understand it, and it was at that time when I felt that the book was too centered to Lotto and his actions. This was too harsh of me, but I couldn't have foreseen the great bomb that exploded and shuttered everything to pieces...

What can I say about Groff's writing? I'm going to resort to clichés, but I cannot help it. The language she uses is so powerful, so immediate, so creative. The style is unique, a third-person narration, with some slight but intricately woven hints of stream of consciousness. The dialogue is sharp, without unnecessary words, the pace leaves you breathless in a story that spans over twenty years, centered on two people. I enjoyed the New York colloquialisms and the fact that I could see and feel the changing city over the years, changes that were depicted in the characters and their interactions.

What is the most fascinating element in this novel? For me, it is the title. Fates and Furies... Why Fates? Why Furies? It had me wondering. The notion of Fate lies at the centre of the Greek tragedies, the three women who controlled and, eventually, cut the thread of all mortals' lives, the Moirai : Clotho, Atropos and Lachesis. The Furies, the Erinyes, were wild, winged female deities. Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone. They hunted and haunted the wrongdoers without mercy, for the rest of their lives. Orestes is the well-known example, punished for the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra. So, Fates and Furies are our daily escorts, from the moment we are born until the day we depart from this world. They are the two sides of the same coin and Groff uses them in such a successful way that would make Euripides, Sophocles and Aeschylus proud...

I was reading this book while I was commuting to work and back. There were instances when it almost slipped off my hands out of sheer shock, others because of my anger caused by certain stupid decisions of the couple. I don't know how can anyone read this novel and feel absolutely nothing. I think it's impossible. One cannot remain indifferent in front of life and Lauren Groff takes life's notions, twists them and awakes every bit and every kind of emotion to the reader. It is a book that speaks with a voice of anger, despair and hope, and we feel compelled to listen...Carefully...

( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
Really enjoyed Fates and Furies, it's a bit slow paced but still interesting. The main focus is on the characters and just seeing how their lives play out. Lotto and Mathilde get married after knowing each other a short time in college, he's very outgoing and well liked, while she sticks to herself. The story is about their life as a couple, first it is told from Lotto's perspective and then retold and additional story told by Mathilde. The characters are well developed, they have likable traits and negative traits, it makes them come off more real. Things do happen to keep the reader interested, its not so much about their everyday life but the big events (which is funny because at the end M says their love is found in the everyday parts of life and not the big events, yet very little of the book shines light on that part of their lives), that are perceived differently by husband and wife. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Jul 9, 2018 |
Oh no, no, no. This is not for me. Fragments instead of sentences, barely strung together, like a skipping record, plodding plotting, poor character development--and that is just the first 55 pages, which is as far as I will ever go.

I have too many books going at the moment and wasn't ready to read this, but I had it on hold at the library and it came my turn. So, I laid everything else aside and took it up. Too little time and too many books to continue with this one. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Ostensibly this is supposed to be a novel about marriage, but I think the question Laura Goff is actually posing in this tale – which just happens to involve a marriage – is: “To what extent are we capable of truly knowing ourselves?”

Lancelot “Lotto” Satterwhite, raised to believe himself a young prince – wealthy, charismatic, handsome – fashions a whole life around this self-delusion. So convincing is he, the people around him become willing participants in helping to create and maintain the self-delusion. He never seems to question why he should be so universally beloved even though he rarely gives more than he gets; why he shouldn’t attain celebrity as a playwright, in spite of the fact that he’s never really written anything; or why he shouldn’t be entitled to the “perfect wife,” in spite of the fact that he almost never bothers to wonder what it is that he has to offer her. His life, in short, seems wholly shaped by the “Fates” referenced in the title of the novel.

Whereas Lotto’s inamorata, Mathilde, constructs a life shaped by Furies – ancient Greek spirits believed to wreak vengeance on those who commit crimes. Having been raised to believe she possesses a fundamentally wicked nature, it never seems to occur to Mathilde that there are other ways to pay for college than pimping herself to a ghastly older man who enjoys debasing her; or that she might possess enough love to share with both a husband and a child; or that she might be worthy of love without having to constantly earn it.

Given that Goff is supposed to be such a terrific writer, one might wonder why this novel has received so many so-so reviews from readers. I suspect it comes down to frustration – frustration over the inability of her characters to engage in honest self-reflection. Most of the stories we’re drawn to – as children, and later as adults - contain strong character arcs: either humble everymen who develop into heroes, or heroes who experience a hubristic plummet into humility. In contrast, no one in this novel (with the notable exception of Lotto’s younger sister Rachel) ever learns, changes, matures, or grows.

Where Goff’s talent shows itself to best advantage is in the way she has crafted this modern morality tale. Unveiling both halves of the relationship at once would have been a more conventional approach. But by first presenting the marriage through Lotto’s eyes and then, later, through Mathilde’s eyes, Goff forces her readers to explore how these differences in perception are shaped not just by who the characters are, but who they believe themselves to be.

Which, in turn, spawns a host of weighty questions – questions sure to trigger many a juicy book club discussion. To what extent are we, as adults, able to defy or transcend the forces that mould us throughout our psychologically fragile childhood years? To what extent do we unconsciously (or consciously) become complicit in sustaining the self-delusions of the people in our lives? Do we have a “duty” to seek self-understanding? (And, if so, a duty to who? Ourselves? Our family? The people we love?) Is being able to experience love predicated on self-awareness? On honesty? On being able to love (or at least forgive) ourselves? And what constitutes a “good marriage” anyway – is it the ability to gain from one’s partner the support one needs, or the support one “deserves”?

Fairly early on, readers will realize that Goff intends her work to be appreciated not just as a story, but as a literary construct. In addition to the deliberately artful method of storytelling described above, there are plenty of references to Greek plays and myths – including frequent bracketed comments that – in the style of a Greek chorus – constantly comment on the main action of the story. But none of this need distract from the fact that many of us continue to live lives shaped by fate and fury, if only we possess the self-awareness to perceive it. ( )
  Dorritt | Jul 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
‘Fates and Furies,’’ Lauren Groff’s pyrotechnic new novel, tells the story of a marriage and of marriage writ large. It is also an exploration of character — good, evil, flat, round, genetic, forged by circumstance, all of the above — and a wild play upon literary history. Groff grafts the contemporary fiction of suburban anomie and New York manners onto künstlerroman, myth, and epic in a dazzling fusion of classic and (post)modern, tragedy and comedy.
Lauren Groff is a writer of rare gifts, and “Fates and Furies” is an unabashedly ambitious novel that delivers — with comedy, tragedy, well-deployed erudition and unmistakable glimmers of brilliance throughout.
The novel tells the story of Lotto and Mathilde Satterwhite. He is the darling of a prosperous Florida family – “Lotto was special. Golden”. She, an apparent “ice princess”, is the survivor of a past about which her husband has only the fuzziest idea beyond it being “sad and dark”, and above all “blank behind her”. The first half of the book offers Lotto’s view of their life together as he rises from charming but failed actor to celebrated playwright, thanks in no small part to Mathilde’s editorial finesse. The second half reveals that Mathilde has, through implacable willpower, transcended circumstances that read like a hotchpotch of Greek tragedy, fable and detective novel. Much of what Lotto takes for granted in his good fortune, it turns out, is due to Mathilde’s ruthless machination, right down to their marriage itself. She genuinely loves him, but she initially set out to win him for mercenary reasons.
Lotto’s story is fairly plausible, a life that might transpire in the world the rest of us inhabit; Mathilde’s story contains more outlandishly fictional twists than those of David Copperfield, The Goldfinch’s Theo Decker, and Becky Sharp combined.
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A thick drizzle from the sky, like a curtain's sudden sweeping.
Hot milk of a world, with its skin of morning fog in the window.
In her sleep her eyelids were so translucent that he always thought if he looked hard, he could see her dreams pulsing like jellyfish across her brain.
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"From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia, an exhilarating novel about marriage, creativity, art, and perception. Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. 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. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart"--… (more)

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