Wednesday, May 18, 2016

FATES AND FURIES by Lauren Groff

Like Gone Girl, this book has two very different halves, the first of which is the husband’s perspective, and the second half is the wife’s.  The husband is Lotto, a tall, charismatic man with a bad complexion and a very wealthy mother.  The wife is Mathilde, who is smart and striking in appearance.  They marry young, and Lotto’s buddy Chollie is convinced that the marriage will be short-lived.  Initially, Lotto struggles to make a living as an actor in New York but then finds that he has talent as a playwright.  Mathilde becomes his business manager, and in the second half we find that she is really much more than that.  The first half of the book, Lotto’s half, did not hold my interest at all.  Lotto is just a big lap dog with creativity of genius proportions. The second half, in which Mathilde is revealed to be quite multi-dimensional, is much more lively.  We’re not quite sure if she’s evil or merely opportunistic or justifiably vengeful or perhaps even a long-suffering martyr, but certainly her early life is more colorful, although not necessarily in a good way, than his.  However, the second half skips back and forth in time, seemingly more so than the first half, and I found the zigzagging timeline disconcerting and annoying, as I tried to determine what had already happened and what was still yet to come at any given point in the narrative.  The first half of the book certainly sets the stage for the second half, but I thought that the first half could have been shorter, so that the author could spend more time filling in the blanks with the contributions that Mathilde makes to the marriage and to Lotto’s career.

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