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Fates and Furies  by Lauren Groff
Literary fiction

Fates and Furies

by Lauren Groff

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Quick take

The book made me yearn for those years in my early life when I could afford to be a little reckless.

Why I love it

Several months ago, I attended a luncheon in honor of Lauren Groff where she read from Fates and Furies with fiery enthusiasm, eyes blazing. You could tell that this new work of hers was a labor of love. It was magical.

Early readers are describing this novel as being about the long course of a marriage, and it is that, but what really resonated with me is its depiction of adolescence, of passion, of selfishness, of narcissism, of beauty, whether careless or studied. It made me nostalgic for youth, and a little melancholy about what happens when that glow starts to fade. And in a funny way, the book made me yearn for those years in my early life when I could afford to be a little reckless.

Lotto and Mathilde are the husband and wife at the story's center. Lotto is charmed and charming; Mathilde is a beautiful enigma. They are glamorous in the way Bogie and Bacall were, or F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald—individually they are alluring, but together their appeal is dazzling. But, as is often true with real people, their exteriors mask what's really going on in their heads—the insecurities, the loneliness, the fear of abandonment. Their love props them up and bolsters them throughout their lives, yes, but what Groff conveys so exquisitely is that even larger-than-life creatures like these, who seem to have it all, wind up alone with their spinning thoughts at the end of each day, just like the rest of us.

As many references as this novel contains to Shakespeare, to Greek mythology, to playwrights obscure and well-known, it is not a cerebral book. It's a book that leads with its heart, and with a playful and exuberant language that is wholly the author's own. And there's also a little hint of Gone Girl in this book—secrets that the spouses keep from one another, and—spoiler alert—the narrator isn't always reliable.

If you are in the mood for something delicious, transporting, and a little self-indulgent, treat yourself to this exquisite novel.

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Member ratings (607)

  • Jessy C.

    Washington, DC

    The beginning of the book was quite slow, and I wasn't sure I'd keep reading but I am so glad I did. The slow start builds to such a great story. Great writing. Great characters. Great surprise twist!

  • Courtney D.

    Shingle Springs , CA

    I absolutely loved this book. It was heart felt, surprising, funny and sad. I enjoyed reading from the 2 different perspectives of Lotto vs Mathilde but in the end it came down to a reinvented love st

  • HEATHER B.

    New York, NY

    The reviews are so polarized on this, but I think readers just forget that we don't have many who write like this anymore. Her prose is pure poetry, running the full gamut of the human experience.

  • Michele T.

    Brooklyn, NY

    As someone contemplating marriage, this novel of a marriage told from two perspectives is though provoking and lyrical read. It will remind you of how little you can know someone you love.

  • Madison M.

    Pensacola, FL

    This book took me a long time to get into, probably when the perspective switches, but Lauren Groff is perhaps my all time favorite author. Her sense of place is spectacular.

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