Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

The marital drama Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff uses a narrative technique of telling the same story from two different perspectives, that of the husband and that of the wife. The two viewpoints are very different and the wife's story illuminates the husband's perspective with secrets that are not revealed until the second half. The writing is literary and words like dense and layered are used to describe it.

I found both characters to have likable aspects but also flaws like many great characters of fiction. Lancelot Satterwhite is egotistic and pretentious but also kind-hearted and empathetic. Characters often change their opinions of others and the full picture is not revealed until the last chapters of the novel. Mathilde changes her name and never truly finds a home but she can never be sure if this is her own fault for evil action that took place in her childhood or if it was simply just a mistake. It was interesting to learn the truth of certain parts as Mathilde's story slowly unfolds in the second half. 

The novel explores numerous themes including grief, fame, and artistic ability while also telling the tale of this twenty-year marriage that ends tragically in some sense. With writing better than most books I've read, I found it easy to push forward through the slow parts. I think the first half does drag a bit but the second half is much more moving and reveals a lot of background to the story that was not previously known. The second half improves the first tremendously and is the reason for reading it.

There is so much more to the book than the multiple perspectives but that is how I was brought in and word-of-mouth recommendation, which is much strong than reviews or high sales. Usually, the first explorers find a book like this from popularity and it grows exponentially if readers continue to recommend it. I would recommend this book to fans of literary fiction focused on their usual topics of wealthy New York residents who are famous and have a middle-class to upper-class upbringing that appears to have struggles, in this case Lancelot's, or Lotto's, upbringing in Florida, but is just a facade with a hint of European intellectualism added. Mathilde's story is the better half so  I would encourage readers who plan to quit at the beginning to continue to the second part.

I think this book will be controversial with some readers loving and others loathing for the type of book that it is. Overall it was an enjoyable read and I will continue to seek more books like it. 

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