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 we later understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.
In the end, and from the beginning, Groff has created a novel of extraordinary and genuine complexity. A reader might quibble with the occasional word choice that feels forced, or the too convenient turn of a plot point here and there, but before a doubting eyebrow can be fully raised, Fates and Furies has you newly absorbed, admiring its next accomplishment. The word 'ambitious' is often used as code for 'overly ambitious,' a signal that an author’s execution has fallen short. No such hidden message here. Lauren Groff is a writer of rare gifts, and Fates and Furies is an unabashedly ambitious novel that delivers — with comedy, tragedy, well-deployed erudition and unmistakable glimmers of brilliance throughout.
[I]f you do want to learn how to be a great writer, you could do worse than skipping out on that M.F.A. program or pricey writer's retreat, dropping 28 bucks ($17-something on Amazon!) on this book, studying the hell out of it, and then spending all that money you just saved on gin cocktails and hats. It's that good. That beautiful. Occasionally, that stunning.
The prose is not only beautiful and vigorously alert; it insists on its own heroic registration, and lifts this story of a modern marriage out of the mundane...So it is an enormous shame that the novel’s second half squanders in quick moments what was slowly accumulated in the first half’s careful pages....The 'revelation' of [this] second half, far from binding the form in meaning, is the thread that fatally unravels it. Narrative secrets are not the same as human mysteries, a lesson that novelists seem fated to forget, again and again; the former quickly confess themselves, and fall silent, while the true mysteries go on speaking.