Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fates and Furies (by Lauren Groff)

This year I'm not going to play the fool's game of guessing what I think will be shortlisted for the next Tournament of Books, but if I were, I'd put some money on this buzzy novel by Lauren Groff.

This is an incredibly well-written, intimate portrait of a marriage and the lives orbiting it. The relationships are messy and the backstories are complex. Been done before, you might say. But not quite like this.

The point of view is largely centered on the married couple at the center of the novel, but it drifts in and out of the heads of minor characters, sometimes even just for a paragraph. This makes it somewhat obvious that the perspective of the wife, Mathilde, is being omitted -- at least until the last third of the novel, which shifts into her point of view and recasts many of the novel's previous incidents and events.  I loved the structure of this -- Groff jumps around in time, and secrets unfold non-chronologically for maximum impact. Some secrets are predictable, some are not, but all are compelling. 

The writing itself is virtuosic, yet it was entertaining enough to qualify as a "vacation read" and made a day of travel fly by. I'm oddly reminded of Jonathan Franzen, only Fates and Furies blows Freedom out of the water as far as I'm concerned. An excellent litfic novel.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Virtuosic -- yes! I gushed about it over on GoodReads and couldn't fathom why some people were "meh" about it. Even if you don't particularly love the characters, it's worthy of respect. I guess it's the once and former English major in me, but this writer is obviously brilliant and incredibly well-read. All the literary allusions could keep you going for days. I want people to write books like this!

8:16 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Totally agreed! I missed your Goodreads review for some reason -- are we friends on Goodreads? I want to go find it :)

9:32 AM  

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