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Fates and Furies: A Novel Hardcover – September 15, 2015

3.5 out of 5 stars 1,472 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Picked by the Amazon editors as the #1 book of 2015: Many a therapist will tell you that honesty and transparency is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Lauren Groff cleverly turns this concept on its head in Fates and Furies, demonstrating that sometimes it’s what you don’t say—to protect your partner’s vanity, their reputation, their heart—that makes a marriage hum. (Until it doesn’t.) Broken up into two parts and numerous perspectives, this dazzlingly told tale of one such marriage introduces us to Lotto and Mathilde. The former is an out-of-work actor-turned successful playwright, although some of that success is fueled by forces his ego obscures. And then there’s his adoring and enigmatic wife, Mathilde, who we later find out is a far better actor than Lotto ever was. For all the smoke and mirrors, Groff crafts a convincing love story that packs an emotional punch, especially when certain truths are revealed. There is also something satisfying in finding out the extent to which our own perceptions are skewed as the narrative unfolds. The title Fates and Furies is a nod to Greek Tragedy, and this novel revels in the themes befitting one—passion, betrayal, vengeance, redemption…You will revel in it, too. –Erin Kodicek


“Lauren Groff is a writer of rare gifts, and Fates and Furies is an unabashedly ambitious novel that delivers – with comedy, tragedy, well-deployed erudition and unmistakable glimmers of brilliance throughout.” —The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

“One of the pleasures of reading Ms. Groff is her sheer unpredictability: She can inject her narrator’s voice at any time, turn a sentence into a small hurricane.” —The New York Times

“Even from her impossibly high starting point, Lauren Groff just keeps getting better and better. Fates and Furies is a clear-the-ground triumph.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Thrillingly good—precise, lyrical, rich, both worldly and epically transfiguring… Groff is an original writer, whose books are daringly nonconformist… The prose is not only beautiful and vigorously alert; it insists on its own heroic registration, and lifts this story of a modern marriage out of the mundane.” —James Wood, The New Yorker

“Lauren Groff rips at the seams of an outwardly perfect marriage in her enchanting novel Fates and Furies.” Vanity Fair

“[Fates and Furies] is a stunning 360-degree view of a complex relationship… There’s almost nothing that [Groff is] not interested in and her skill set is breathtaking…It’s an incredibly ambitious work, she writes like her hands are on fire.” Richard Russo, NPR's Morning Edition

“We can’t help but be fascinated by the possibility of what goes on behind closed doors—especially if there’s a glam, madly-in-love couple on the other side. Meet Mathilde and Lotto. Groff’s novel unfolds in a he said/she said gutting drama that you won’t be able to resist.” – Marie Claire

“Sentence by sentence, this novel, like [Groff’s] others, is a thoroughbred. Measured by its narrative tricks, however, it is a Trojan horse. Groff’s story of a marriage in which neither partner truly understands the other uses a sophisticated technique to tell its simple story, subverting our expectations with a two-voice counterpoint as meaningful as it is dazzling.” —TIME

[This] story is a storm you hope won’t blow over: surprising, wild, with pockets of calm that build anticipation for the next squall… Groff scours her characters, laying them bare so questions of likability are moot. If, in the end, everyone is flawed, everyone also attains a kind of nobility.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“The book is a master class in best lines…It's that good. That beautiful. Occasionally, that stunning.” —NPR.org

The Florida author’s third novel is billed as her most ambitious yet, filled with sex, rage and revenge.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Audacious and gorgeous …. The result is not only deliciously voyeuristic but also wise on the simultaneous comforts and indignities of romantic partnership.” —LA Times

“[A] rich, tricky novel… Groff is a fantastically vivid writer… it’s hard to stop reading.” —Entertainment Weekly

“A recounting of a 25-year marriage looks way different when told from both sides of the bed.” Cosmopolitan

“A playful and riveting read that questions whether love can be true when it’s wrapped in falsehoods.” —People

“Renders majestic even the most familiar moments of everyday life… Groff’s writing is striking and revelatory.” —USA Today

“A delirious, exhilarating and heartbreaking ride through the decades of one fable-like marriage ... The author demands the reader to participate, to engage deeply in order to take in all of the mysteries, flaws and triumphs of this one relationship. Read it, relish it and be sad when the ride is over.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Groff breaks the novel form open at the seams… What's different and remarkable about Groff's third novel can be summarized in two little words: the writing. Groff is a prose virtuoso, and in Fates and Furies she offers up her writerly gifts in all their glory.” —The Chicago Tribune

“Groff’s command of allusions, imagery, and the puzzle pieces of her characters and plot thrill. So do her words, phrases, and sentences, which bubble up like poetry.” —The Boston Globe

“[Fates and Furies]
is capacious, messy, and bold… Groff’s hard, realist vision of marriage — not the fairy-tale voices of the fates that embroider it — gives her novel its considerable force.” LA Review of Books

“Groff’s novel keenly probes the different ways that men’s and women’s creativity and human value are assessed.” —The Guardian 

“Watching a relationship from its inception to its quiet demise is a perverse pleasure… . Lifting the curtain on the front of a perfect marriage and finding a messy pile of emotions heaped on infidelities is strangely satisfying; reading about the nasty bits in prose as elegant and cutting as Groff’s is icing on the cake.” —Gawker

“Groff’s boldness pays off... the title evokes images of Greek mythology in all its vicious glory as Groff examines a marriage by dosing it with epic overtones and filling it with the sort of themes the gods themselves would appreciate: jealousy; betrayal; art; death; love; revenge.” —Miami Herald

“For all the homage Groff pays to the comforting rituals comprising a marriage, her novel is also attuned to how little we'll ever know, even of those we know best. Fates and Furies will induce such reflection. Involving the bed you've made. The loved ones you've made it with. And whether you're living your life there or just sleeping it away.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Fates and Furies is wholly complex, dramatic, and riveting – an exploration of love, betrayal, perception, and the destructive power of secrets. Groff’s novel’s crackling energy makes it the perfect read for fall.” —Buzzfeed 

“Each page contains sumptuous pieces of imagery.... Fates and Furies, too, begins as a fist, its secrets clenched in its grasp. Once it is pried open, the secrets release like a magician’s doves.” —Electric Literature

“With Fates and Furies Lauren Groff goes many levels below the surface of a marriage, into a place that is perhaps as hard to reach as it is to describe, but Groff, a bold and marvelous writer, is able to do both.  Because she's so vitally talented line for line and passage for passage, and because her ideas about the ways in which two people can live together and live inside each other, or fall away from each other, or betray each other, feel foundationally sound and true, Fates and Furies becomes a book to submit to, and be knocked out by, as I certainly was.” —Meg Wolitzer, New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings

“Fates and Furies
 is a dazzling novel, its people and its prose wondrously alive from page one. At once intimate and sweeping, this is the story of a marriage as parallel myths— flaring with passion and betrayal, with redemption and retribution, with the sort of heart-breaking, head-slapping secrets that make you want to seek out someone else who's read it. Lauren Groff is a powerful and graceful writer, one of the best of her generation.” —Jess Walter, New York Times-bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition edition (September 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594634475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594634475
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,472 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Review by: Stacy Palm
*** 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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to read a book about privileged white people who attended ivy league schools and who have tons of time to drink and have porn quality sex, then dive right in. If you want a book about a real marriage between real people with real problems, then look elsewhere.

I found this book utterly pretentious. Lauren Groff wants us to know on every page--in every sentence, for God's sake--how very, very clever she is. Her writing stands in the way of the reader actually absorbing a story. For example, her characters are named Lancelot (Lotto) and Mathilde, and their dog is named God. So every time you read about them, in the phrase, for example, "God screamed", the narrative dream is broken and you are left wondering if you should make more of what you are reading than you are. Furthermore, there is nothing about the characters that inspires you to care about them. The choice to read to the end is compelled by the hope that something will happen that will make you finally care--make the laborious effort of reading through Lotto's pretentious plays worth it. Nothing ever does. Groff relies on Hollywood style plot twists that cast characters as either good or evil; doing things that are much more common in movies than in real life. There is nothing in these characters that a real person can relate to.

I read this because it was chosen for the Morning Edition book group. I'm sorry I did.
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Format: Hardcover
I should have known. Whenever a book is shortlisted for an award and garners almost-universal rave reviews, I end up hating it. I had to pick through the miasma, the sludge of pseudo-poetic language, to understand what the heck was going on. I read a lot, and I am an English major, but this novel did me in. The writing induced headaches and exasperation. Oh, where do I begin?
1. Use of [brackets], including some that are full, long paragraphs
2. Turgid prose
3. A "hero" named Lotto, which also happens to be the name of a state lottery). It's short for Lancelot. His mom was afraid kids would make fun of him if he was referred to as Lancelot. Hence the perfectly non-mockable Lotto.
4. One-word sentences
5. Repugnant characters
6. Absence of logic
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Format: Kindle Edition
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher (via Netgalley).

The first section (Fates) was a 2 or 3 star slog, but the second section (Furies) is unquestionably a 5 star read. Overall, pushing through the beginning was worth it for me.

Major Themes:
Marriage, differing perspectives, secrets/betrayal

What I Liked:
- I love the overall theme of differing perspectives, particularly as it relates to a marriage. Groff deftly shows how one person’s background can shape his/her perspective on events…sometimes ending up with a vastly different interpretation than others.
- Lotto’s version of his life with Mathilde (Fates) seems fairly normal and even uneventful, but things completely turn on their heads once you switch to Mathilde’s perspective (Furies). So many times, I was left astounded at what had really gone on.
- Though it took me awhile to get there, I had a very hard time putting the book down by the end.
- This is a book that has me thinking and pondering and I feel like it will stick with me for a long time.
- The writing started out a bit terse and I initially had trouble getting into the flow. But, as the story moves along, the writing ends up being absolutely glorious. I was highlighting like crazy by the end.

"They handed over spider plants in terra-cotta, six-packs, books, bottles of wine. Yuppies in embryo, miming their parents’ manners. In twenty years, they’d have country houses and children with pretentious literary names and tennis lessons and ugly cars and liaisons with hot young interns. Hurricanes of entitlement, all swirl and noise and destruction, nothing at their centers."

What I Didn’t Like:
- This book started very slowly for me.
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