I had heard so many great things about Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff’s latest novel , so was excited to pick up a copy this month. It tells the story of a marriage, and more crucially, the secrets within it.
‘There rose a feeling in him as if he’d discovered a window in a lightless closet locked behind him. And still a sort of pain, a loss.’
Split into two parts the novel tells the story of a couple with an unconventional marriage. Playwright Lancelot ‘Lotto’ Satterwhite grew up lurching from one fling to another with a string of sexual partners. However, this changes when he meets model Mathilde, a woman whom he marries having known her for just a couple of weeks. This intrigued me; I was curious as to what made Lotto change his lifestyle so quickly and dramatically, what it was about Mathilde that led him to make this commitment at such a young age. Mathilde too, also seemed to be surrounded in mystery, and I wondered what was in store for this young couple. We get to see their marriage from both Lotto and Mathilde’s perspectives, the first part of the book; ‘Fates’ focuses on Lotto’s story and in ‘Furies’ we find out more about Mathilde. This was an interesting way of viewing the marriage from different angles, seeing each partner’s attitudes towards one and other – the highs and lows of marriage, the things that are shared and the things that are left unsaid.
“Your words have more weight than most people’s. You swing them wildly and you can hurt a lot of people”
Whilst I was intrigued by the premise and keen to find out what secrets each character held I must admit I had mixed feelings about this book. It is clear that Groff is a very talented writer and here she has produced a complex work of fiction which includes some great passages of writing, with a poetic, lyrical feel. However, there were other passages that seemed a little jarring, along with numerous depictions of sexual activity of which some made for uncomfortable reading. That said there were plenty of positives to take from this novel. I liked the way Groff picks apart a marriage between two people who from the outside seem to have it all. The idea that the things that are left unsaid help define what we become. Lotto’s career as a playwright was also interesting, with the snippets of his plays throughout the novel adding a theatrical element, and there was nothing more theatrical than his own life, and the extraordinary marriage he shared with Mathilde.
‘The story of women is the story of love, of foundering into another. A slight deviation: longing to founder and being unable to’
Whilst I didn’t love the book as I hoped I would I can see why Fates and Furies has been so well received by critics and readers alike. It is a complex tale of love, secrets and betrayal that kept me interested until the final page.