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Fixed on Fiction

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

In May, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

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.

-Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

We began our discussion by sharing some excitement over our recent ballot results. You can find the list of our next 12 titles here. Moving on to Fates and Furies, here are some of the initial comments readers made while discussing their reaction to this month’s selection:

  • Thumbs up. These are certainly horrible people with horrible backgrounds. Very telling of how your upbringing/family life shapes who you are as an adult. I liked the style of writing. I liked how Groff told us stories about the characters through Lotto’s plays.
  • Thumbs up. This reminded me a bit of The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (a group of young people at a great college, trying to launch acting careers), but I liked Fates and Furies much more. I didn’t like Lotto at all and was sort of glad when he died. After Lotto died and we reached the Furies section, it was like reading a completely separate, second book. I liked the writing style, but there was some sleazy/gross content. I loved the literary references.
  • So-so. I was annoyed that Lotto was angry with Matilde for her history with Ariel. In the first half we think she’s this sweet little wife. How surprising to learn her true character and realize she’s not subservient at all.
  • Thumbs down. Everyone was despicable. I found the use of the word “Muvva” so annoying and the sex scenes were gross and off-putting. Just when you think things can’t get worse, they did.
  • So-so. The first 100 pages were very hard to get through, but then it got interesting. I enjoyed the fast pace and all of the twists. Reminded me of Sidney Sheldon.
  • So-so. As I was reading I kept thinking- “What’s the point of all this?” Everyone was terrible and Lotto was naïve. I did feel sorry for Matilde in the end.

Other Thoughts:

  • People who don’t have a family (Matilde) always want one, until they realize that not all families are happy.
  • Groff thought her language would cover all sins. Stop trying so hard- it came off as pretentious.
  • On the parenthetical asides- I think she was trying to show that there are a lot of secrets in marriage. Those asides gave us an omniscient/third view.
  • On Lotto’s section being called “Fates”- He was told all of his life how great he would be. He had strong ideas of fortune and luck.
  • On Matilde’s childhood: Did she really push her brother? Perhaps but she was too little to understand the severity of the fall. That’s why she didn’t want children, she truly believed she was evil.

Other books and films mentioned during our meeting:

These are simply some of the highlights from our discussion. Feel free to leave additional thoughts on Fates and Furies in the comments section below. 

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