Monday, November 21, 2016
Published September 2015 by Penguin Group
Source: bought about my library's book sale
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.
Fates: The story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of a man who has spent his entire life believing that fate plays a bigger part in his life than anything he does. So when Mathilde walks into a party one evening, Lotto, who has spent the past few years having sex with every woman he meets, drops to one knee and asks her to marry him without even knowing her name. Two weeks later they are married. Even though life is not always perfect, even though their marriage is not always perfect, Lotto clings to Mathilde, who spends her life caring for him, feeding his insatiable ego, and lifting him out of his depressions.
Furies: The story of that same marriage as seen through the eyes of Mathilde, whose life before Lotto explains a lot about her life with him.
The idea of telling the same story through two different points of view isn't a new one, but I'm not sure I've ever read it done better. I appreciated that Groff didn't try to give us a picture of the perfect little missus in Fates; Mathilde is enigmatic from the first time we meet her and there is a shell around her that no one seems to crack. In Furies, we learn why as Groff delves into Mathilde's past, fills in the gaps and answers questions. And damn! Those answers are...unexpected, to say the least. As much as I enjoyed Fates, I could not put the book down almost as soon as I started Furies.
Groff's characters are, almost without exception, flawed but incredibly real. You won't like them, necessarily, but you will feel for them. Her writing is marvelous and filled with mythology and Shakespeare and passion and betrayal, both broad and intimate. The book sometimes dragged when Groff got caught up in deep ideas. But that was rare and easily forgivable given how much I liked the rest of the book. And I really, really liked this book.