Book Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Between his skin and hers, there was the smallest of spaces, barely enough for air, for this slick of sweat now chilling. Even still, a third person, their marriage, had slid in.

Fates and Furies is the story of a marriage told in two parts, about the secrets that sit within that marriage and the truths the married couple believe about one another. The first part Fates is written from the husband’s point of view and the second part Furies, is written from the wife’s perspective. There is a twist in middle section of the novel so it is quite hard to talk about the book without giving it away but I’ll try.

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The husband and wife are Mathilde and Lotto, a golden couple, who’ve been together since college and who’s relationship is the envy of friends and bystanders. They are beautiful, talented, faithful to each other and madly in love.

We follow them as they navigate their lives together and come to terms with their past lives. It becomes clear throughout the book that the way their relationship is viewed from the outside is not necessarily the true picture of the relationship from within. It also becomes evident that Mathilde and Lotto don’t necessarily believe the same things about their relationship.

There have been some comparisons of Fates and Furies to Gone Girl and while I see similarities I think that these are two very different books. Lotto and Mathilde are much more believable characters for starters. They are definitely flawed but they are better people, more human and they do struggle with questions of their own morality.

Fates and Furies is also a more literary book, Groff uses beautifully descriptive sentences and passages and at times is able to evoke magical and ethereal imagery. I would say that the first section Fates is more focused on language than plot but in Furies the plot really picks up and the language becomes less of a focus. This is reflective of the characters, Lotto being more romantic and whimsical and Mathilde more pragmatic.

Where it does draw parallels however is with its views of a marriage and how the appearance of a marriage can be quiet different to reality. It’s also fair to say that both books deal with couples that are certain they understand their spouse when it actually fact there is a lot hidden below the surface. 

Overall I enjoyed this book, there were times in the first 100 pages where some of the writing seemed a bit laboured and like it was trying a little too hard to be literary. Though once I became engrossed in the book I found it hard to put down. President Obama also listed it as one of his top books of 2015, so if you don’t take my advice then you can take his.

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