FATES AND FURIES, by Lauren Groff, is one heck of a big, juicy literary novel. It seems as if everyone in NYC is reading it. I’ve seen photos of the book in many hands.
” A thick drizzle from the sky, like a curtain’s sudden sweeping. The seabirds stopped their tuning, the ocean went mute. Houselights over the water dimmed gray.
Two people were coming up the beach. She was fair and sharp in a green bikini, through it was May in Maine and cold. He was tall, vivid; a light flickered in him that caught the eye and held it. Their names were Lotto and Mathilde.
For a minute they watched a tide pool full of spiny creatures that sent up curls of sand in vanishing. Then he took her face in his hands, kissed her pale lips. He could die right now of happiness. In a vision, he saw the sea rising up to suck them in, tonguing off their flesh and rolling their bones over its coral molars in the deep. If she was beside him, he thought, he would float out singing.
Well, he was young, twenty-two, and they had been married that morning in secret. Extravagance, under the circumstances, could be forgiven.” These three paragraphs form the beginning of Groff’s important novel.
This is the story of an extraordinary marriage of more than twenty years. It’s complicated as marriages tend to be. Only two voices make up this novel although many so called friends and family members are part of the fold. The first part of the novel is FATES and is told in Lotto’s voice. And the second part of the novel is FURIES, told in the voice of Mathilde. FURIES is so full of anger and secrets that it amazes even as it pulls you in.
Lotto was born into a rich Florida family. We are talking all sorts of money. But his mother disinherited him without a dime the moment she heard of his marriage to this “nobody.” Still, he and his new bride are convinced that they can live on love. Even as he finds some fame in acting, it’s never enough. And little does he know of the secrets behind every thing he does.
With Mathilde we discover a life lived far beyond anything we have been led to believe in FATES. Hidden demons. All beginning as a small child. Never feeling good enough. Tortured soul. The woman behind the man.
This is a multi-layered story of a marriage. And as anyone who has been married for any length of time can attest to, there is love and there is tolerance. It is hard to believe that Groff is not yet forty. She has an uncanny knowledge of a long-term marriage.
As much as I enjoyed this story, I have to say that I did not love these two characters. But, I did love the story. I believe this is one of those books that will be great for book clubs to discuss.
This is a book that is important this year. And, most likely, for years to come. I look forward to reading more of Groff.
I received this book from Riverhead Press in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, guys! You have a winner here.