Lotto is 22 when his eyes set on Mathilde for the first time at a party held near the end of their time as Vassar undergraduates. Lotto, tall and handsome, is a known player. Mathilde, although gorgeous, is a recluse. But at that party, their lives would change forever. Lotto would leap and swim through the crowd to hold Mathilde’s hand and ask her to marry him, and they will get married two weeks later in secret.
In Fates and Furies, the marriage of Lotto and Mathilde full of love is the kind that makes even their ‘friends’ envious. Their friends would take bets on how long this marriage will last – they would bet on a year at first, then give it six years – but Lotto and Mathilde would prove all of them wrong. Their marriage would last over two decades until the untimely death of Lotto, surviving issues of disinheritance, years of poverty and unemployment, finally followed by Lotto’s fame. But just because the marriage survived all those good times and bad times, does it mean it was perfect?
Reading Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies was a rollercoaster ride for me. One of the running themes of this novel (other than that no one really knows what goes in a marriage behind closed doors) is, do we really know the other person in a marriage beyond his/ her actions and words? When skeletons started to emerge from closets (and kept growing at a pace I found it to be an overkill!), I was dumbfounded (so were Lotto and Mathilde). However, I felt I was more forgiving in some instances, more than Lotto and Mathilde were willing to forgive each other at least initially.
At one point in the novel, Lotto’s late mother who comes to him in a dream tells him “Marriage is made of lies. Kind ones, mostly. Omissions.” Even though the idea of a ‘marriage made of lies’ scares me, I do realize what she meant. Unless what a person choose not to say solely for personal gain is something that can have a major effect on the other person’s life, I agree that certain white lies will be told out of kindness than malice in any relationship. Nonetheless, I do not believe all marriages/ relationships are inherently made of lies – white lies or otherwise!
For me, Fates and Furies was a good read. It is true what Lauren Groff tells us about Lotto – “For now, he’s the one we can’t look away from. He is the shining one” – because Mathilde’s story which follows Lotto’s turned out to be far more interesting. Unfortunately, however interesting Mathilde’s story was, it lacked in novelty which made some twists in the plot easy to predict.