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I’ve been intending to read Fates and Furies since it was a National Book Award Finalist, and when the universe put a copy in front of me, I snatched it up. This was one of those epic stories you read over a weekend and then walk away reeling from the story, thinking about it for days. This tells the tale of Lotto and Mathilde, who meet in college, marry, and live a life destined for greatness.
Although Lotto comes from money, his mother disowns him, and he must make his fortune on his own–which he does by writing plays. When the narrative shifts halfway through from Lotto to Mathilde, it shifts the way we make meaning of this story. I was pleased we were able to hear Mathilde’s side to the story, which shed light on a number of elements in the story I wondered about.
The verisimilitude was one of my favorite elements–everything seems like it could have actually happened. With this type of realism, it makes me wonder how Lauren Groff came up with some of these details. I particularly appreciate that the couple never had children, as there are not many novels out there with couples without children (although even that element is complex in this story). As per usual, below I’ve chosen some favorite quotes:
- [Tragedy, comedy. It’s all a matter of vision.]
- “What’s it like? Natalie said quietly. “Marriage, I mean.”
Lotto said, “A never-ending banquet, and you eat and eat and never get full.”
Mathilde said, “Kipling called it a very long conversation,”
Lotto looked at his wife, touched her cheek, “Yes,” he said.
- “She wondered at the kind of anger that would crumple your heart up so hard that you could watch a child struggle and fail and weep for so long, without moving to help. Mothers, Mathilde had always known, were people who abandoned you to struggle alone.”