Tuesday, January 12, 2016

1st Review of 2016! Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Title: Fates and Furies
Author: Lauren Groff
Publisher: Riverhead
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.

My Review:

I know I've mostly been doing mini-reviews lately, but I figured my very first book of the year deserved its own post.  Especially when we're talking about a much-hyped book like Fates and Furies!

I'll say from the outset that, while I did enjoy this novel, I was a bit mystified about all the 5-star reviews and "Best Book of 2015" designations that have been tacked onto it.  There was a lot for me to like about Fates and Furies, but I wouldn't really say I loved it.

Number one reason I was into this book: Groff's ability to create wonderfully complex, nuanced characters.  One thing that struck me about both Lotto and Mathilde is that their physical appearances never became entirely clear for me.  While they both regarded each other as physically gorgeous, other characters in the book often described them as awkward and odd-looking, but still beautiful by way of personality or charisma.  As such, I love that my vision of them was shaped more by their personalities than their actual physical traits.  I think this also spoke volumes about their maturation throughout the book.

While Lotto came across is pretty naive and vain across the board, I was struck by the hidden surprises within Mathilde.  For the first half of the book, she is often in the shadows, and I was looking forward to having her mysterious nature unveiled in part two.  Sure enough, she had a lot of secrets to hide, and I loved the unexpected calculating edge to her character.

That said, I think the book didn't reach "amazing" status for me because there wasn't anything terribly unexpected within its pages.  It is an interesting portrait of a marriage, and certainly includes many quotable passages about the subtleties of married life.  But aside from the uniqueness of the two protagonists, I didn't find anything particularly new here.

Is Fates and Furies worth the read?  Absolutely.  Is it going to be on my favorites list for the year?  Questionable.  But I'm still quite happy with it as my choice for first read of 2016!

What are your thoughts on Fates and Furies?  Read any good relationship dramas lately?


  1. Happy to hear you enjoyed your first read of the year; always a good thing. It does sound good but perhaps a bit same old? The last book I read that included similar (or sort of) drama was Sara Taylor's The Shore; excellent book.

    1. Oh I loved the Shore! One of my 2015 favorites.

  2. I initially added this to my list from all the favourite lists in December but once I took the time to read the summary and reviews on Amazon, I deleted from my TBR list. This one seems like 'there is just something about it'. Either you like it or not. I'm glad you still feel it is worth the read though.

    1. Yes, worth the read, and I think the description had me thinking there would be something more unique/unexpected to it than there actually was.

  3. I'm with you!! Solid, 4 star read for me, but not on my Best of 2015 list. And I thought the first section was a little drawn out.

    1. I'd agree with that. I found myself flipping forward to find out when Mathilde's part of the book would begin, as I was getting tired of Lotto, Lotto, Lotto.

  4. I agree with you - sadly, I wouldn't have given it even 4 stars. I thought it was ok. But, for me, the physical appearances of the characters were striking in my mind - I guess because the author kept talking about how Lotto wasn't traditionally handsome, but he had something magnetic about him. Her character descriptions were the best part for me. The plot and story - ok.

    Tanya Patrice

    1. I can totally see why that would be. I need to go on Amazon and the other "best of" sites to see the exact justifications for why people were so wow'ed by it. I enjoyed the read, but it wasn't anything to shout from the rooftops.

  5. I almost gave up on this one, but Sarah kept me going. OMG, Mathilde was something else! I would definitely recommend it. But best of the year? No.

    1. Agreed about Mathilde! The depth of her character was a big part of the hook for me. Lotto was so blah in comparison.

  6. I actually don't feel as though I've had a good idea of what this was about before reading your review, despite getting the idea that everyone likes it. I might have to pick it up, especially since I don't feel as though it has a lot of hype to live up to :)

    1. I'd be interested in what you think. The book seems to be a bit polarizing (you love it or you don't!)...the plot is rather ambiguous and best to go into without a lot of solid details.

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