A lot of people have compared Fates and Furies to Gone Girl and if that helps it sell a squillion copies, great – because Lauren Groff’s third novel deserves nothing less.
Personally, I think the comparison is spurious. While similar in structure – the book is split into two parts, telling the story of a marriage first from his perspective and then from hers – this is a far superior novel, a major work of literary fiction that announces Groff as one of America’s finest young novelists.
The book introduces us to Lotto and Mathilde, beautiful creatures that marry young just two weeks after they meet. The first half of the novel focuses on optimistic Lotto, a charismatic lothario who wants to be an actor but eventually finds fame as a playwright; the second half on secretive, unknowable Mathilde.
There’s no murder or chicanery like there is in Gillian Flynn’s overrated bestseller, and no great plot twist; but the perspective shift brings an avalanche of smaller surprises that illuminate and enrich everything that precedes it.
Lotto and Mathilde are fascinating, finely-drawn characters and Groff’s writing is nearly note perfect.
Barack Obama named this his favourite book of 2015. Had I read it in time I would have done likewise.