“Fates and Furies” was given to me on this past block break, and I have not been able to put it down since. It is the type of book that makes me appreciate recommendations from friends who know exactly the kind of novel that I would love: descriptive, poignant, a sharp insight into a regular couple. Lauren Groff focuses the novel on the rise and fall of a couple that met in college. Through close and beautiful description, she brings the reader into the life of Lotto and Mathilede, inserting us into their turmoil and their love and sex life.
Though it is intensely centered on Lotto and Mathilede, the novel examines the way in which time can strengthen and chip away at relationships; mothers, friends, lovers. As a senior, it was both relatable and terrifying to watch friendships constrict and unravel as time passes. Careers, love lives, and children enrich the lives of the characters, but also pull them into their own insular world.
Groff also explores the ways that success can unfold in a life. Lotto, who believed himself to be an actor, finally discovers his talent in playwriting, after years of struggling to land acting gigs. At a time in our lives when most of us are wary about our futures, it was reassuring to see that all the adversity and struggle Lotto endured eventually paid off. Of course, this is not the case for everyone, but stories like these encourage us to keep pursuing our interests. The success has an obvious effect on his relationship with his wife, and Groff gives us glimpses of their love and resentment through short bursts of description.
Something that struck me about “Fates and Furies” is that the novel seemed a manifestation of everything I knew about success and marriage and love, but played out in brilliant imagery and language. Groff’s writing pulled me into the life of Lotto and Mathilede and rooted me there, even when the inevitable, unfortunate turn in the story arrived. From the very beginning, I became invested in their characters, and their love for each other.
However, if you are not so much a romantic reader, this might not be the novel for you. I feel a strong pull towards descriptive writing and rarely do things feel slow for me, but I could understand other readers losing interest. The pace of the novel is incredibly fast at times, with passages in the same chapter jumping months or years ahead. Other times, Groff can keep the reader in the same room for multiple pages, taking time to settle into the setting of the place. For those looking for action, the beginning of this book might be hard to get through. However, the strength of the novel really comes out in Groff’s language and her meticulously crafted sentences, and that is an effect not many can ignore.
Lauren Groff’s book unfolds in sharp, stunning prose, and subtly challenges your beliefs, encouraging the reader to realize some things about marriage and love and life that they may have been hesitant to examine before.