Fates and Furies – A modern twist on the Greek Tragedy
…or Comedy, they were basically the same
“Storytelling is a landscape, and tragedy is comedy is drama. It simply depends on how you frame what you’re seeing.”
— Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
Everyone has a story and Fates and Furies proves that true. The baristas serving your morning coffee, the people you pass on the street, a woman so old her age is indeterminate they all are living their own stories. What choices, events, coincidences bring people to the exact moment in time that you encounter them. We are all living our stories and it may be tragically comical to think that on high someone is pulling this string or that; commenting on the truths we hide from ourselves as we put on the show that is our day to day lives.
Fates and Furies is the story of Lotto and Mathilde Satterwhite. Lauren Groff’s tale is deep and rich and so well developed you will know these people and their circle as though an old friend [Aquaintance? How well can you know your friends?]. Groff develops the novel in two parts. The first, Fates, is Lotto’s story. It starts at the very beginning – how he came to be conceived, his young life in Florida as the privileged child of a water tycoon, then the events that lead him to Mathilde. Groff explores their young marriage and all the golden dreams that young lovers spin. We follow his quest to be an actor that leads to his success as a playwright. The story is more than developed. It is rich and layered and deep. Groff’s ability to weave a metaphor is exquisite though sometimes it is to the point of pain. You may need to stop and run back a few lines. The lines are beautiful but it is not a simple read.
Section two is Furies. After living in the naive and dramatically optimistic head of Lotto we turn to she who makes his world shine, Mathilde. Here, Groff almost spins an entirely different tale. While Lotto’s life was a good one, he certainly had his hardships, but still came through a smooth stone. Mathilde is held apart as an unknown. And, while Lotto thinks he knows his wife here we discover the lies of omission that question if you can truly ever know someone. We see the woman who shapes Lotto’s life so that he can be the glowing artist. The unspoken sacrifices and deep secrets that weather her decisions. There are even a few twists and turns that I was not expecting [it is the quiet ones you need to watch]. It did not seem to be “that kind of book” but the shift to a darker turmoil were seamlessly woven into the tapestry of the Satterwhite marriage.
This is not a boring marriage book. By page forty you feel as though you’ve read an entire novel. When it switches to section two the entire tone of the book changes from a beautiful literary tale to one with a bit of mystery and vengeance. It is a book you will love or hate. It has the most three star reviews I’ve ever read from people who also say how much they enjoyed it and would recommend the novel. People are a mixed bag and if ever a novel proved so it is Fates and Furies.
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