Fates and Furies
By Lauren Groff
Gillian Flynn skillfully divided Gone Girl into He Said/She Said and produced nothing short of a mega hit. Lauren Groff employs the same technique as skillfully in the service of dissecting an apparently happy marriage. In the case of her Fates and Furies, we view the marriage of Lotto and Mathilde through of eyes of husband Lotto in the first part; in the second part we get Mathilde’s side of the story, recounting many of the events of the first half as she saw and experienced them. Groff succeeds on multiple levels, not the least of which is producing a thoughtful, well-written page turner.
Lotto is something of a god not only to his wife and friends, but to the entire arts community. This is not to say his life is a cakewalk. He struggles for years in near poverty trying to be an actor. Poverty seems imposed upon him by his mother, for he comes from considerable wealth, but she dislikes his choice of wife. It’s not until he discovers his ability to tell stories that he finds fabulous success as an acclaimed playwright. Always by his side, loving him and supporting him, Mathilde encourages him, sticks with him through thick and thin. In the first part of the book, which relates his early life, his sexual prowess, how he meets Mathilde (an electric, surely fictional, moment when he climbs over people at a party to reach her), and, for the most part, a nearly idyllic life with her. You’ll find this section of the book quite lyrical, joyful, and overall nicely done and in keeping with Lotto’s poetic nature.
Tone changes dramatically in the second half, when the furies take over, incarnate in the life and views of Mathilde. The lyrical tone vanishes, the happy moments don’t strike us nearly as delightful as they seemed at first. In fact, through Mathilde’s eyes, we see a different world, one that she had a hand in creating, two examples of which to watch for are how she supported him and how she kept the pair in poverty. Recalling your Greek mythology, you’ll remember that the furies were the embodiment of vengeance. Sufficient to leave it at that, or maybe this quote from Shakespeare (appearing late in the novel) from Coriolanus, Act 4, Scene 2:
“Anger’s my meat; I sup upon myself,
And so shall starve with feeding.” w/c