Kate Gibson ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Is transparency the glue that keeps a relationship together? Lauren Groff doesn’t believe so. In this incredibly crafted novel, Fates and Furies, Groff shows that perhaps it’s secrets that make a marriage work. Separated in two parts and several perspectives, this novel introduces its readers to the seemingly successful marriage of Lotto and Mathilde. For all the smoke and mirrors, Groff crafts a convincing love story—that packs an emotional punch—between these two successful out-of-work-actors. A love story centered around not truth, but secrets.
Since its release on September 15, 2015, from the Penguin Publishing Company, Groff’s novel has received several awards: Amazon’s 2015 Best Book of the Year, New York Times Bestseller, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, The Times, The Seattle Times, and many more. It’s safe to say this book has made a name for itself, and for good reason.
Groff has told many sources that this novel was originally tended as two separate novels (One, Fates. The other, Furies), but the main reason for the success and hype of this novel comes down to the fundamental fact that Groff thought against that and made it into one, interwoven novel. The novel is in many ways about marriage, as many critics have observed. It’s also about something even more universal than love—two people sharing the, seemingly, same life yet different universes. Story wise: two very different short novels, bound together, can explore the way we use literature to get what we need to make sense of our own lives and the lives of others’. That is why this novel is so important on the most fundamental level.
The character development is astounding in this novel. After reading this novel readers know these characters, inside and out. Honestly, this book relies heavily on the fact that the characters are the driving force in the desire to turn the page. It is the early years of these characters that are the most polished and interesting chapters of the entire novel.
This novel, although its been positively received, has faced criticism on the density. One of the aspects that may contribute to this response is the use of perspectives. The use of multiple perspectives and sections definitely add an additional layer of complexity that leisurely readers are not used to. Yet, this complexity is needed in Groff’s beautiful analysis of relationship success.
Several critics have also pointed out the borderline pretentious nature of the novel, referring to the amount of zealously laden series of complex metaphors and a glimpse of a pseudo play-opera based on Antigone. This novel not only needs these components to be a feat of literary craft, but they also, rightfully, challenge readers to dig a little deeper into novels. Fate and Furies may be more of a dense read than a pleasurable one; this is not a beach read, but an important read.
It is hard to say what any reader will get out of this book. Marriage and the secret success of a marriage certainly bring up interesting questions, but Groff doesn’t give us all the answers—nor should she.