Read Remark Book Review - Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Book Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

One-sentence summary of Fates and Furies:

We explore Lotto and Mathilde’s 24-year marriage and the many layers to each of the characters.


Lancelot, Lotto for short, grows from a coddled boy to a disaffected teen to a lothario of a man. He inexplicably and irretrievably falls in love with Mathilde upon meeting her, and the love sustains them for a very long time.

There’s something magnetic about both of them.

Other people are drawn to them obsessively, so when Lotto and Mathilde find each other, it’s as if the poles have aligned and together they have hit true north.

To say much about Fates and Furies, even about the characters’ shortcomings, would give it away. There are some stories whose unfolding should be fresh for the reader.

I’ll leave out the particulars and instead speak for a moment on sandwiches.

When eating a sandwich, one has choices:

  1. Throw together slices of bologna and american cheese on white bread and take a huge bite.
  2. Sit at a progressive restaurant and eat fresh vegetables, mustard (or grey poupon), provolone, and deli turkey on whole wheat bread. All of it is locally sourced and organic, presented on Instagram-ready white plates with cold-pressed juice on the side in a mason jar, sold for $15.

Similarly, there are two different ways of looking at a story. The TV show Cheers serves as a perfect example.

  1. Throw together a bunch of people in a bar. It showcases their daily ups and downs, with the unifying thread of cheap suds and amiable companionship. Keep it simple and call it Cheers.
  2. As Diane Chambers does in Frasier (Frasier, “The Show Where Diane Comes Back”, season 3, ep. 14), use those same people from that same bar telling the same stories to each other, except stage it as a serious stage production and name it “Rhapsody and Requiem,” heavy on the self-aggrandizement and finding hidden truths within the patrons’ psyches.

Maybe you see where I’m going with this.

Fates and Furies takes a relationship and goes the fussy route.

This book is Diane Chambers eating the $15 artisan sandwich.

Even Lancelot and Mathilde’s names are pompous. Lotto creates plays at which Diane Chambers would likely salivate.

And it’s highly enjoyable. Reading about these arrogant, often unlikeable people and their inner workings is great fun. Especially when the story turns.

It’s fascinating to see what happens after the happily ever after. Books that explore an actual marriage between actual adults can be difficult to find.

This one brings forth the full force of both the mundane fate and the fierce furies of domestic life.

Just be sure to consume it with pinkies up and nose in the air.

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