November 3, 2015

FATES and FURIES by Lauren Groff

It is utterly conceivable that one marriage can have different meanings to the couple it brings together.  The ideal is a true unity of spirits, a true communion of souls.  Yet it connects two people with different histories, different upbringings, different psyches, and different needs.  Thus makes a conventional marriage with two different realities. Two people inhabiting two completely different spheres in one marriage.

Using the female deities of Fates and Furies as metaphors, the novel is divided into two parts, each part aptly and respectively named.  The first part, Fates, is the story as seen from the view of Lancelot, nicknamed "Lotto".  This half of the narrative personifies destiny, portraying Lotto as the knight-in-shining-armor that his namesake is.  Lotto was fated to be born into wealth and privilege. Lotto was fated to be actor-turned-genius-playwright. Lotto was fated to have a solid marriage with the ever-devoted Mathilde.

The Furies half of the narrative is the story of justice and vengeance. For Mathilde, who comes from a history of tragedy, abandonment, and exploitation, this marriage is a lifesaving act.  She will do anything and everything to save Lotto and their commitment to each other.  Thus her fears harbor her secrets. Her story lets us in on her behind-the-scene life: a life of both devotion and betrayal, filled with acts that save and acts that squander.

It is difficult to judge who is the good and who is the evil, which secret builds up and which secret destroys. Characters, in life and in fiction, have to deal with complexities and surprises using tools they have acquired growing up, resulting in equivocal acts that are difficult to clearly classify.

This book, though, is undeniably a good read.  It is completely satisfying--  shifting versions and emotions, two points of view, and all its beautiful sentences.  I end this entry with some of my favorites.

"If one might die at any moment, one must live!"

"Some Cupid kills with arrow, some with traps."

"Please. Marriage is made of lies. Kind ones, mostly. Omissions. If you give voice to the things you think every day about your spouse, you'd crush them to paste. She never lied. Just never said."

"Paradox of marriage: you can never know someone entirely; you do know someone entirely."

"Never's a liar."

"Happiness feeds but doesn't nourish."

"Because it's true: more than the highlights, the bright events, it was in the small and the daily where she'd found life."

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