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Fates and Furies: A Novel Paperback – September 13, 2016
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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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“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
“[Groff has the] ability to write dazzlingly about sexual matters." —Vogue
“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
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
*** 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.
Never before have I returned to a book and not looked forward to reading more.
It's not so much (as other reviewers have noted) that the book is about a bunch of white, prep school hipsters living privileged lives in New York where orgies, drinking, and begging rich relatives for trust fund money passes for hardship-- though this gets tiresome in a hurry. It's that the characters-- who are all all conjured from a narrow, semester-abroad-in-Provence version of reality-- are almost bereft of truth and humanity. Their very names (Mathilde? Lancelot? A dog named "God"? Really?) are so self-conscious you kind of hate them from the start. (If I had to hear Lotto refer to his mother as "Muvva" one more time...). Whole lives hinge on enormous improbabilities. Lotto, in middle-age... and having never written anything (much less a play) before, is the second-coming of Arthur Miller almost overnight, after writing his first play in a matter of hours, and having it premiere (via a convenient deus ex machina) at one of the most prestigious Off Broadway theatres in the Anglo-American world. OK.
Mathilde, [SPOILER ALERT] we learn, has a troubled prior life no one knows anything about. (Aside-- this former life in Brittany is a warmed over Flaubert cake iced with bits of Google search). While the novel is meant to be about the power and depth of love, the entire narrative hinges on the improbability that in seventeen years of marriage, Lotto has never unearthed a single clue of his wife's past. She appears sui generis in a frat house-- a Heidi Klum femme fatale-- and WHAM-- it's love at first sight with no questions asked. I found myself completely disengaged from a love story built on such profound deceit when it was clear the author wanted me to to feel otherwise.
All of these unlikely plot twists are meant to serve the novel's pacing, which remains glacial until Chapter 10.
Mathilde's and Lotto's love affair is grounded in sexuality, and Ms.Groff is hell-bent on making sure you know this. There's hardly an interaction between them in which they aren't copulating or putting their hands down one another's pants just to make damned sure you get it: These two like sex. A lot. Or maybe... a Lotto. (Sorry).
This wouldn all be OK except that the sex scenes feel forced and are often leavened with eye-rolling sexual banter ("'Hello Private!' she said teasing the tip of him. 'Atten-hut.'") Overall, one has the same feeling reading these scenes as one has watching an actor unclothed on stage who is terribly uncomfortable being naked in front of people.
All of this said, I am judging this book by a high standard because I know what Ms. Groff is capable of. And there are flashes of this in her prose and characterizations as they come to life in the final third of the novel. I just wish her editors and peers had been a little more exacting in the first two-thirds.
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