Review: Fates and Furies
He longed for something wordless and potent: what? To wear her. He imagined living in her warmth forever.” – Lauren Groff
Every now and again you get a book that is so delicious, you almost wish you could eat the words in it. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff is such a book. This is the story of an exceptional marriage seen from two perspectives: Lotto’s and his wife Mathilde’s (or seen from her viewpoint, Mathilde and her husband, Lotto’s). It begins as the marriage is consummated on a beach. This is symbolic, in a manner, of the rawness and truth of this beautiful book – the sand gets in and backs are scraped. No relationship can be perfect in every way.
This is not a work giving the idealised notions of traditional romance novels; its strength lies in its veracity: lank hair, bodily smells, disappointments, depression, relationship peaks and troughs, connection, jealous friends, personal growth together – and apart, and if you are lucky, together again.
The characters in the book are so accurately portrayed that you ache when they ache, love when they love, grieve when they grieve.
And of course, Groff also provides a few characters you can cheerfully dislike. One of these is Lotto’s mother, very well summed up in a line of one of Lotto’s plays:
Why, it’s your family that tells you who you are. Without a family, you’re a nobody.” (Something she indicated to Mathilde.)
Groff also has a wonderful knack of depicting changing seasons and nature. How about these fantastic descriptions?
Tree turned to sparked neurons in silhouette.”
Someone said, “Look! The moon!” and there it was, hove up like a ship in the navy edge of sky, and it filled them all with longing.”
In Fates and Furies, every word is carefully chosen, so much so that I felt like I was being taken on a vocabularic rollercoaster – and it was a riveting.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
If you like Fates and Furies, you may like Paula Marais’s novel Shadow Self.