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Fates and Furies (2015)

by Lauren Groff

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,8191843,682 (3.58)211
"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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» See also 211 mentions

English (181)  Piratical (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (183)
Showing 1-5 of 181 (next | show all)
One of those books I went into knowing nothing about, it had just been so breathlessly recommended by folks I knew that I decided to just go for it. To start with I was rather fascinated and delighted, the prose is florid and over-the-top at times, but in a fun way, and the portrait-of-the-playwright-as-a-young-horndog was fun and funny. Lotto is a great, ridiculous, hillarious, and over-bearing presence, a comical and biting satire of the male ego that had this male reader alternately laughing at the over-the-top boorishness or cringing when things struck just a little too close to home. A middling actor and (as we are told over and over again) a brilliant playwright, Lotto's utter obliviousness to his wife Mathilde's internal life is remarkable but at the same time not to far off the mark, so I was really looking forward to hearing "her story" of their marriage in the back half of this book (first and second halves my audiobook was expertly read by Will Damron and Julia Whelan, respectively, and they do a great job with the range of voices, accents, and narrative registers Groff uses throughout). Finally, I thought, we'll see what's going on in Mathilde's world!

Well, yes, I was definitely surprised by the "secret history" that Groff weaves for us in the second half of the book, but not really in a good way. The plot, already plenty melodramatic in Lotto's half of the novel, becomes straight up over-the-top Gothic in the second (Or perhaps more Dickensian? I think Groff was aiming at all of the above, with plenty of Shakespeare and Sophocles thrown in the mix as well... It's a lot). I won't spoil things here but suffice it to say that Mathilde has more than her fair share of secrets and skeletons in the closet, and if you were expecting a realistic portrait of a marriage, I don't think this is going to satisfy that desire. Not to say that this fictional relationship isn't plenty nuanced and detailed, but it's definitely further into [b:Gone Girl|19288043|Gone Girl|Gillian Flynn|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1554086139s/19288043.jpg|13306276] territory than I ever imagined it would be, but where that book carefully seeds the wild twists and turns that eventually arrive, Fates & Furies is somehow both more far-fetched and less interesting. And where both the sunny and drunken excesses of Lotto's youth and the starving artist grind in New York both felt lived in, Mathilde's secret childhood feels like a cartoon.

All in all, happy I read this one, would read other work by Groff in the future (but probably short stories instead of novels), but overall I'm quite surprised that this one became such a hit. ( )
  francoisvigneault | May 17, 2021 |
I loved this book in the beginning. I found the prose artful and engaging, abstract in that it tended more toward train of thought than adhering to the rules of proper grammar, which I really liked. (It wasn't Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway train of thought - more like when you jot down ideas to get them on paper and don't go back to edit them.) It was entertaining, insightful, well-paced . . . and then I entered Part 2.

The book is sectioned into Part 1, Fates, and Part 2, Furies. Both are the tale of a marriage, the first as seen through the eyes of the husband, the second through the eyes of the wife. I didn't like the wife's perspective as much. It seemed more focused on the way she viewed herself, the real her, versus the way her husband saw her, the way she wanted to be.

This book is very different from what I usually read. It was written in a different style, had a different subject matter, and was told in a different manner. I didn't like the characters, but I liked the writing so much it didn't matter. (I often don't like the characters in books.) If the second half failed to please me as much as the first, it may have been due to the fact that it was a complete departure from what I was expecting. 4.5-5 stars. ( )
  ShannonHollinger | Feb 15, 2021 |
Really could go either way between a 4 and a 5 on this one. I'm usually not one for "a detailed view into a marriage" but Groff's writing is enthralling and has a lot of fun with what could have been a hackneyed narrative device.

However, I think that her dialogue kind of leaves something to be desired - it seems like half the characters talk like They Are In A Novel, which is really distracting and annoying. Also, while I applaud her willingness to take a hard right turn for the second half of the book, a lot of it feels like it dropped out of a totally different place than the first half of the book, like putting a brick onto a nicely constructed cake. That came out more harsh than I intended, but I can't really think of another way to put it. Overall, though, definitely worth checking out. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
This is a piercing novel about love and marriage. There are two acts, and each makes you question what the other will hold. First, Lotto, the Fate: golden boy, lover of all women, smitten utterly by Mathilde, years of famine while struggling to be an actor, then success as a beloved playwright. And devastating secrets, his and Mathilde's. His voice is cloying, entitled, infuriating, and yet you want to believe in him and Mathilde. And then, we have Mathilde, the Fury: self-fashioned, struggling, pure, yet secretive. Mathilde's is the voice that makes this novel, in my opinion. 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. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Conflicted here, because I can appreciate how well this book is written, but I didn't really enjoy it. It's very erudite with Greek, Shakespearean and other classical foudations, allusions, and references, but it was a bit of a slog. The first half of the book is Fates and is more devoted to Lancelot Satterweiler, the golden trust fund boy from FL whose father (Gawain) died unexpectedly and whose mother (Antoinette) is devoted to him, but holds the purse strings and apron strings. As a young teen, he fraternizes with a rough crowd, Chollie (Charles) and his twin Gwennie to whom Lotto loses his virginity, and his mother sends him off to an East Coast prep school to rememdy this behavior. Lotto never returns home and never sees his mother again. He retains contact with her by phone, but she has developed agoraphobia and he is still wounded over his exile. He is also in touch with his dear Aunt Sallie (his father's sister who is nursemaid to Antoinette) and his young sister Rachel, 13 years his junior. Two main points emerge about Lotto during these early chapters: he loves sex/women which he has in abundance thanks to his charm and good looks and he loves praise, which he receives as an actor with some success in prep school and college (Vassar). The narrative flies through these years with some urgency, because his life doesn't truly begin until he meets Mathilde with only a month left of college. She is a model, with very fair striking looks and a French background. Lotto is smitten and Mathilde is calculating, but to all onlookers they are a perfect couple. They marry after 2 weeks knowing each other and begin their young adult life together in NYC after graduation, but Antoinette has cut him off from his funds as punishment for his marriage. The narrator says "it was mathematical, marriage. Not, as one might expect, additional. It was exponential......In they'd come integers; out they came, squared." p. 388 Lotto tries to get acting jobs, but Mathilde is the one keeping them afloat through her determination. They still seem to exist in a bubble of good times, sex, parties and hanging out with their college pals. Chollie has followed Lotto to NYC, but Gwennie tragically ended her own life. Finally, Lotto arrives at playwriting and becomes an amazing success in large part to Mathilde's manipulations behind the scenes, unbeknownst to Lotto. She is his muse, his manager, his editor and he believes in her purity and goodness. The second half of the book is Furies and is more devoted to Mathilde's story -- she was the Diablesse back in France and was abandoned at age 4 by her parents to other relatives, which is how she arrives in the States around age 11. The whole book is devoted to Lotto and Mathilde's relationship, which is presented with 2 different view points to chilling effect. While their life looks perfect from so many angles, there are dark undercurrents to the intensity of their marriage and attraction. The narrator retains a professional distance from all and often interjects commentary in brackets, not unlike stage directions. The whole book is woven together beautifully with some excellent surprises and curve balls -- it's a very sophisticated read. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 181 (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.
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lauren Groffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Damron, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, JuliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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"--

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