Genres: literary fiction; contemporary
Why I read it: I read a sample in Buzz Books back in 2015 (the publication year) and absolutely fell in love with Groff’s writing style. I’ve been itching to get a copy ever since and finally did.
Who I’d recommend it to: This is a tough thing because I know this novel will not appeal to everyone. If you like secrets and characters that aren’t always likable, maybe read a preview and see what you think of it.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
What it’s about:
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.
I’m a sucker for a great cover, so I have to mention is. If I hadn’t come across this in that Buzz Books sampler, I would have pounced on this in a store because it’s a gorgeous cover, and the title is pretty great, too.
Before I dive into this, I’m going to go ahead and say that this will probably be a vague, short review. I’ve seen other reviews mention that you should probably go into this not knowing a lot about it, and I definitely agree with that. I went into it knowing pretty much nothing, and not even really remembering what I’d read those two years ago. I just remembered the writing was amazing and I had to read it, no matter what it was about.
This novel is divided into two sections: Fates is the first, and Furies is the second. The first section is more about Lotto, and Lotto & Mathilde as a couple, while Furies is more about Mathilde. The first section is a bit slower, but it does pick up in the second.
The writing style takes a little getting used to, I think, and even by the end of the book I felt like I couldn’t read it very quickly. Lauren Groff is a wonderful writer (I’m basing this assumption on only this book), and she uses a lot of very direct, non-flowery sentences, which are sometimes quite short. It’s almost choppy writing, but more like a razor than an axe. It’s precise and deeper than you might first expect.
Before reading this, I would suggest preparing yourself to not necessarily like the characters. I’m not sure I actually, truly, liked any of them, and I’m not upset by that at all. Usually I would be, but they were all written so well, so believably, I don’t mind that they weren’t wonderful people. They were life-like, and I appreciate that.
I don’t normally read a lot of contemporary fiction or literary fiction, but this book makes me want to consider changing that. It was compelling, at least by the second half, and I found myself not wanting to put it down. I had to know more and see how so many threads were woven together. I ended up staying up over 36 hours to finish it (I didn’t read that entire time, I just sacrificed sleep to finish).
Essentially, this book was a fascinating look behind the curtain of a marriage, and a reminder that no matter how well you know someone, no matter how much time you spend together, how much of your lives you share, you still don’t know everything about them. There’s much more, but I don’t want to elaborate because, as I said, I feel like this is a book you should begin knowing as little about it as possible.
Do I recommend it? Yes, but tentatively, because it really will not be for everyone. (On a side note, this was apparently President Obama’s favorite book from 2015, which I think is neat.)
Have you read Fates and Furies? What did you think of it?