Book Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

9780099592532I’ve seen this book making its round on Tumblr for quite awhile and I figured that it must be a pretty good book, considering how so many people all over the world have begun reading it.

So I started searching for it online and found that MPH Online had stock of this title. A click or two later and the book was being prepared to be shipped over to my place of residence.

I don’t usually buy books online, but when I do, it must be good enough for me to want it. When it finally arrived in my mailbox, I couldn’t wait to get started. After all, it did look rather tempting from what little I could siphon off the back of the book cover, and the front cover’s design of the word ‘Fates’ being among the flowers and ‘Furies’ being among the thorns.

Fast forward a few weeks later to this very morning after I was rudely awakened by a power cut in our condo. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I stayed up reading the last five chapters until the end and learnt that this has got to be the most complicated and convoluted story I have ever read. Coming back to my mentioning of the front cover design, now I will tell you what the correlation is between the fates and the furies.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff was the first half of the book told of a marriage between two young lovers who met and tied the knot only after two weeks of meeting one another.

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 was the story of Lancelot ‘Lotto’ Satterwhite whose point of view of his marriage to Mathilde Yolde was as rosy as the fresh blooms of spring, and as joyous as the first day on a white and snowy Christmas. His side told of happiness when he first met her, the sex he had with her, the gratitude and thankfulness that he felt having her as his wife. He had naively believed that she was pure; an angel sent from Heaven to be by his side through thick and thin. I don’t blame him. After all, as a reader upon reading his side of the story, I thoroughly believed the same.

It was only after I finished reading ‘Fates’ that upon entering the double doors of darkness in Mathilde’s life that I realised I had thrown caution to the wind and thought that their marriage was one of unity and faith. Furies kicked off with the bad news of Lotto’s passing which was never mentioned on the last few pages of his life in the part of Fates. We only learn that Lotto has passed away, leaving his wealth and inheritance to his wife, Mathilde. And now we take a journey to the grimy underworld (literally, if you’ve read what her life was really all about) to learn the truth about Mathilde.

She was neither a hired assassin, nor was she a witch dabbling in dark arts. She just wasn’t your average girl-next-door. She had no friends when she was young. She was abandoned by her parents at her grandparents’ home after a freak accident involving her baby brother, whom she had deliberately meant to harm. Later on, we’ll learn that she had to stand on her own two feet at a tender age of 14, do what she thought was best for her and grow an outer layer of toughness to survive in harsh reality. There were many things tied to her past that she did not share with Lotto. She only showed him what she felt he, and their friends, were entitled to know.

Fates and Furies had been a magical ride for me. Lauren Groff had been poetic in her writing style and waxed lyrical with each word, sentence and paragraph. There had been instances of relatability to famous quotes and phrases from the world of stage plays and theater. Groff’s insightful portrayal of marriage between Lotto and Mathilde had been even more complex than it first appeared. She skillfully strummed the vibrant tunes of love, devotion and annoyance that made up the basis of any real marriage.

I had to pay close attention to what I was reading as the developments would sometimes seem irrelevant or vaguely unreasonable in the first half of the book, yet somehow start being apparently revelatory in the second half. Even before I reached the end of the book, I began to flipped back and re-read the chapters that I’ve already covered. It was indeed a masterful tale of marriage and secrets. Everyone has secrets. It only becomes a burden when these secrets become everyone’s problem.

If you thought that these disclosures and reversals had been piled on a bit too thick, well, they kind of make up for a dizzying ride that will shake your confidence in what you think you know about your spouse — and yourself. It was a book that challenged my beliefs, critiqued my thoughts, and questioned the norm of marriages and what are they really made of.

For a different and more comprehensive version of the Fates and Furies book review, you can go to The Nature of Things. Now I shall keep calm and carry on with my next book, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie.


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