Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fates and Furies: A National Book Award Finalist

Lauren Groff’s third novel, Fates and Furies, is making headlines. Just released in September, this book has caught the attention of several reviewers and was recently announced as a finalist for the National Book Awards.

Groff’s novel tells the epic love and marriage of Mathilde and Lotto. The story is very much their own and doesn’t claim to be the typical marriage. Lotto, from the time of birth, has been gifted with money, charisma, and passion—an artist’s fuel. Mathilde is more mysterious. Her life seems to be a void as we see her through Lotto’s eyes in the first half of the book. She is good and Lotto is unworthy, as he perceives it. The second half of the book is the same story, but from Mathilde’s perspective and not at all the same story in the end. Mathilde is much more complex than Lotto ever knew.


The book is compulsively readable. Groff’s writing is beautiful, just as the reviews state. However, I struggled with the story for the entire first part of the book. It felt contrived and predictable. I had that “this has all been done before” feeling, but when I moved over to Mathilde’s perspective things changed drastically. Perhaps it was just Lotto who was predictable, but Mathilde was the grease that allowed his predictability to stay in motion through sacrifice and strong will. After initially feeling deceived by reviewers, I started to feel like I needed to read the book again. And take notes. Lots of notes. There’s more to the book than you initially expect. 

The National Book Awards will be announced on November 18th. 

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