Book: Fates and Furies

Monday 19 September 2016 by

Fates and Furies, Cornerstone, Lauren Groff, Book, Reading

How well does anyone truly know someone? Married for decades, it’s only after her husband’s death that Mathilde starts to fully understand her husband Lotte. But there are secrets on both sides, and as they go through their married life, it is the secrets that they keep from one another that really builds the marriage. Fates and Furies itself is split in to two; Lotte tells the eclectic mix of his story as a series of fates, whereas in furies, Mathilde talks about her manipulation and control over Lotte’s so-called fates.

The characters themselves are particularly unlikeable. You’re never going to fall in love with either of them; narcissistic, selfish and downright obnoxious, they are often frustrating and infuriating, without much else going for them. In particular, Mathilde is cold and calculating, and her behaviour throughout the marriage feels cynical and vicious. Lotte, on the other hand, is just plain self-centred. No one like that can be fun to read.

There’s some wonderful writing though. Less a thriller and more a work of literary fiction, it nonetheless inhabits many thriller-esque ideas, making you feel like there is doom only on the next page. In the end, the story simply comes full circle – as if the secrets that are revealed only serve to give you a greater perspective on what has already happened (as is often the case in real life).

I couldn’t decide if I loved this book or disliked it intensely. It evokes such strong emotion that you can only read it in short passages. It stays with you though, and will do a long time after you put the book down. Lotte and Mathilde are deeply unreliable narrators, they are protagonists that you will be glad to leave behind at the end of the day, but their story is compelling. It feels hugely authentic, it feels absurdly beautiful, and it feels like a Shakespearian tragedy. Every word, every action, is beautiful in its ugliness. Every secret, every turn of events, feels poetic in its execution. A bitter pleasure to read.

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