Published by Penguin LCC US on 2015
Source: West Florida Public Library
"From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia, an exhilarating novel about marriage, creativity, art, and perception. Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart"--
When a book is described as one of the best books of the year, there’s not a whole lot I can really say that might persuade others to read it. So, instead of writing a standard review, I would like to share a couple of my favorite moments, which will involve minor spoilers.
I loved the character complexity of both Mathilde and Lotto, but I found myself admiring Lotto in the same way a host of minor characters did. I relate it to his unfailing ability to find beauty in others, from his long list of lovers to his wife to the operatic composer with whom he was determined to collaborate.
My absolute favorite moment in this book was during the artist’s retreat, when Lotto had a pity party of epic proportions. He and Leo had been working vociferously on their opera. Suddenly Leo takes leave to compose the music, thus abandoning Lotto to languish alone (and after he has extended his time away from Mathilde and missed Thanksgiving to boot). It went on for a couple of pages, but this concisely sums it up:
“He would starve here. On the shelf he had one apple kept back from a lunch, a box of skinny-person granola bars that Mathilde had packed, one last ramen cup. He would bleed to death from his cheek. The tailbone fracture would go septic inside him. No electricity and he’d burned up all his firewood in his gluttonous frenzy last night: he would freeze. No coffee either, caffeine withdrawal the real tragedy here.”
Groff exquisitely demonstrated Lotto’s proclivity for dramatic flair during this scene. Poor Lotto, cold, alone, cut off from everyone he loved. Poor, poor Lotto. I laughed out loud reading this.
Near the end, Groff beautifully describes the difficulty Lotto experiences when faced with a dissenter. Despite overwhelming praise and adoration, Lotto allows one person’s negative opinion to dash his confidence. This struck me quite forcefully. In that moment, I recognized myself in Lotto, that streak of perfectionism that sometimes allows a small blemish to mar my achievements (particularly my written work during my master’s degree). Seeing it before me as a narrative allowed me an opportunity to reflect and I intend to use this newfound insight the next time I start to “Lotto out” over a thesis draft. And I doubt I’m the only one out there who can relate to this.
So, to sum up, it’s a book that made me laugh, made me think, and made me stay up half the night to finish it. Read it!