Published by Riverhead Books on September 15, 2015
Genres/Lists: #30Authors, Fiction
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
Last September, during #30Authors, author Sara Taylor reviewed Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and I knew I would have to pick it up. Since then, I’ve read mixed reviews. Some loved it, some hated it, some loved the first half, others loved the second half, and so on. As for me, I don’t fall into any of these categories because I had mixed emotions throughout the entire book and find myself liking it more now that I’ve finished reading it than I did while I was reading it.
Fates and Furies is the story of Lotto and Mathilde, who met and married abruptly. Despite being as different as night and day, their characteristics complemented each other in the way that many spouses’ do; moody vs. even-keeled and overly confident vs. realistic. But both Lotto and Mathilde are eager to leave their pasts behind and chart a new course forward, so they tuck their insecurities and secrets into their back pockets and move on with their lives, only pulling them out every once in a while to ruminate before moving forward once again.
The book follows their relationship over the years, and with each passing phase we learn more about them as individuals and watch them orbit around each other, peering into their marriage through their own unique lenses. Like any marriage, their’s has its ups and downs and the reader is taken along for the ride through all its glory and gore. If I had to pick one sentence to sum up the book, it would be, “Marriage is made of lies. Kind ones, mostly. Omissions. If you give voice to the things you think every day about your spouse, you’d crush them to paste.”
When I first started reading, I was in love. The author lives in my hometown, Gainesville, FL, and I’m guessing she did her research there. The references to Weeki Wachee mermaids, teenagers getting into trouble at Crescent Beach, and biting into loquats was so familiar that picking up the book felt like going home. I found myself racing through the pages, but the nostalgia didn’t last long and I was left understanding why other readers had a hard time with the first half. Although I enjoyed the plot, I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters and felt fairly apathetic about the the first half. I pushed through, however, because I knew it was going to get better.
By the time I got to the second half, the story had picked up steam and I was more interested. There’s a major shift midway through the book and the change of pace was refreshing. I was also excited to see what all the fuss was about and while the second half was better, it didn’t wow me. I started out Part Two in the same way as Part One; I raced through the pages, then slowly lost steam and became less interested in the fates of the characters. What kept me going was the book’s reputation and Groff’s excellent use of foreshadowing, which had me curious about how it would all play out.
Overall, Fates and Furies is a solid book. I didn’t love it but I certainly didn’t hate it and, in hindsight, it has given me much to think about. Given what I knew about it before picking it up, it didn’t exceed my expectations, nor did it disappoint. This is one of those books I’ll remember liking more and more as time goes by but the reading experience was a bit of a struggle at times. I never quite got used to the unique writing style and Lotto and Mathilde were neither likable or unlikable enough to truly capture my interest in the moment, although they have become more interesting now that I’ve finished the book.