Friday, 16 June 2017

Book Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Book: Fates and Furies

Author: Lauren Groff

Pages: 400

Publisher: Windmill/ Penguin (in India)

Read: Paperback (pictured above)

Read in: 4 hours

Plot Summary: 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. 

General Thoughts: We've had this book for about a year.. maybe more.. and somehow, it just sat looking pretty on our bookshelf. Finally, I got down to reading it yesterday. I was quite unwell and this seemed like a good book to read- well written, about the inner workings of a marriage and a hint of some kind of a mystery! Oooooh! Just what someone under-the-weather needs to lift her spirits! 

Things I Liked:
1. The writing is sublime. It is a bit flowery sometimes but it is sublime, nonetheless. The author brings Lotto and Mathilde's world to life so beautifully and vividly. This book is a joy to read! 

2. The narrative is very fast-paced and there are so many events in the story that the 400-odd pages just go by pretty fast, which is a remarkable achievement for a work of literary fiction. There is never really a dull moment in this story. 

3. The anatomy of a marriage- what it looks like from the outside, what it looks like to the partner who does not ask too many questions and takes things at face value and what a marriage is for the partner that is keeping a million secrets. This book is about all of this and it does raise some interesting questions about how much sharing and open-ness should there be between a couple. Is it necessary for the couple to know everything about each other to have a good marriage? Or is ignorance bliss when it comes to marital relationships? 

4. The book is written from two perspectives- Lotto's and Mathilde's- which is quite interesting because you get to see the same events from Lotto's innocent, superficial and self-obsessed point-of-view and then you get to see the same things from Mathilde's, um, much more interesting point-of-view. 

5. The characters are interesting: 
 Lotto- is self-obsessed, sort of narcissistic and seems very happy to live life on the surface. He is the kind of guy who takes things at face value and, for the most part, seems happy-go-lucky. 

Mathilde- It is pretty clear that she is not what she seems when we read about her from Lotto's perspective. She is so sharp and manipulative and, downright, evil sometimes. It was a bit of a nasty flashback to Gone Girl and I was sorely tempted to put the book down when the second part of the story started. But, thankfully, Mathilde is quite fun to read about and I am glad that I stayed with the book in spite of my misgivings. 

Even the other characters- Chollie, Sallie and Rachel- are well-crafted and flit in and out of the story effortlessly. 

Things I Didn't Like: There were minor irritants in the book and some plot devices that didn't make much sense (the timing of Chollie's reveal about Mathilde's past, lack of any real clarity on Mathilde's motivations for marrying Lotto, for instance) plus, the writing was a bit too flowery and weird sometimes. No big deal breakers here. 

Rating: 4/5 
Read it; this is a good one. 

I have seen some reviews where people didn't like the writing style, so, click on the 'Preview' button above and read the first chapter to see if you like it :) 

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