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Fates and Furies: A Novel Hardcover – September 15, 2015
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*** 3 out of 5 stars
Release Date: 9/15/2015
First, let me clarify that my 3 star rating is a neutral rating. This is a very difficult book for me to review. I'll start with what I believe is the premise. This is a book about marriage, and about individual perspectives on the same situation. It's a book that brings to light that every person experiencing a situation, even if the situation seems mundane, brings with them their own prior knowledge, and their own view hinged upon all the information that they know that others may not. It is also a book about compromise and what that compromise is worth to a person.
The reasons I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it. The character development is astounding, after reading this novel I know these characters, inside and out. Honestly, this book is relying heavily on the fact that the characters are the driving factor for you to turn the page because there isn't much else there. So they are lively, vivid, characters. These characters do seem to propel the story along so that you feel lost in their world. The beginning and younger years were by far my favorite chapters of the book.
The reasons I didn't enjoy this novel. It is not a light read. It is a heavy, dense read, and often times over pretentious (a whole glimpse into a pseudo play-opera based on Antigone) that brought the whole flow of the book to a grinding halt. Simply because I found myself having to go back and re-read the zealously laden series of complex metaphors, but some readers live for that kind of thing, and if you're one of them, you will love this book. I personally found it a bit much and would have preferred Ms. Groff sacrifice the literature for a better tempo to the story, but that is just my opinion.
Overall, this is where it becomes very difficult to review. I see what this book had to offer. I see the intention and I see the reasons for the delivery. However, when I ask myself the question, "Did reading this book have an effect on me and if so what was it?" To be truthful, I honestly can't answer this question. I don't know that it had any effect on me. I contemplated some things that were factors in the book, but I don't know if that was because of the reading or from knowing that I had a review to write. I also think I would have a difficult time recommending this book to anyone unless I knew exactly what type of reader they were. All these reasons are why I've given the book a neutral rating. This may be the book you are looking for, I may have not connected appropriately with the events, so this may be a book you have to try for yourself.
The book itself tells a tale of a marriage between Lotto and Mathilde, from varying perspectives. They are an exciting, glamorous, romantic couple, deeply in love and destined for a wonderful life... or are they? There is a wonderful mythological backdrop to this story that would offer loads to talk about in a book club setting. The Fates were three sister deities, incarnations of destiny and life; whereas the Furies were three goddesses of vengeance and retribution who punished men for crimes against the natural order. In this novel, Lotto represents the Fates... a man who is seemingly destined, not only for greatness, but also for a charmed existence that he barely works for. His match, Mathilde, is the Furies, a woman who has fought for what she has and must control her existence to manipulate what she needs out of life.
Lotto and Mathilde are close but have many secrets. The book club discussion ran the gauntlet, from subjective experiences and beyond. What should be kept secret between husband and wife, if anything? What is love, what is marriage? Do we every really know our partners? "What would you do" was a popular question that night. And, of course, the multitude of references and allegories on mythology, Shakespeare, pop culture media, and much more more made for great discussion and games. Whenever we have nights full of discussion, we are pleased. In that way, this book was a total winner.
Individually, however, only a handful of us would rate this book higher than two to three stars. Many of us said we read the book because it was for book club, but we would not have finished it had we read it on our own. I found Lotto to be an insufferable character (his story goes first and you have to get through him to get to Mathilde) and the book has an overall pretentious feel to it like... the author knows lots of tricks and is super clever and she wants you to know it. Sometimes the foreshadowing and allegories were very heavy-handed, almost in-your-face ridiculous. Several of us were just "over it" as the cleverness and tricks just got a bit old. We loved the idea of the "plays within a play" but it just got a bit tiresome toward the end. Sometimes, subtle play on language is more enjoyable than overt conceit (strained metaphor). Additionally, the book is a heavy example of feminism, and that is not for everyone. Some of us loved that, some of us really disliked it.
Overall this was a highly rated book for book club, but a lower rated book when read as an individual. If your book club wants something meaty to talk about, you may enjoy this one.
Most recent customer reviews
Two main protagonists: Lancelot "Lotto", the playwright genius, and Mathilde, his wife.Read more
I understood why - but couldn't wait to get through those parts.Read more