You may have seen copies of Fates and Furies on the featured shelf at your local bookseller. You are probably familiar with the bold white letters and the roiling waves on the cover. You have probably never heard of Lauren Groff in spite of the fact that Fates and Furies was named book of the year by both Amazon and Barack Obama. But no matter your familiarity, you are doing yourself a major disservice by not reading this book.
Fates and Furies is, at its core, a love story. It is not erotica, though parts of it are erotic. It is not Jane Austen, though parts of it are feminist. It is not Nicholas Sparks, though parts of it are beautiful and touching. The love story that this novel presents is one that is entirely its own, as Groff presents an astoundingly complete portrait of the marriage between Mathilde and Lotto by piecing their unique perspectives together to form a greater picture.
While the marriage between the two main characters permeates every aspect of the narrative, the story touches on many other themes as well including jealousy, loneliness, forgiveness, and grief. Simmering below the surface of this grand love story is a tangled web of relationships that explore a piece of the greater human condition.
The novel is broken into two parts, the first showing things from Lotto's perspective and then the second showing things from Mathilde's. Mysteries in the first part become clear chains of events in the second, as each of the main character's pasts are expanded and expounded on. There is one revelation toward the end of the book that serves as a punch to the gut, though this is not the kind of story that leans on a big twist to prop up a lackluster narrative. Rather, the plot is a character-driven emotional buildup that is fueled by the reader's need to unravel these characters and understand what makes them so.
Even beyond the fleshed-out cast of characters, Groff's writing is magnificent. Her lines of description are pure poetry. Somehow, she was able to make expert artistry accessible to the layman, as the text reads as smooth as butter and is easily digestible. She also includes the added novelty of bracketed asides and comments from an omniscient speaker to shed additional truth on a passage.
Basically, Fates and Furies is a fantastic read because of the richness in character and language that the author brought to her work. Anyone who is a fan of other modern epics like Middlesex or The World According to Garp would find a new favorite in Fates and Furies. If you're looking for something to read this summer, Fates and Furies is highly recommended.