What We’re Reading – Fates and Furies

Title: Fatefates-and-furiess and Furies

Author: Lauren Groff

Genre: literary fiction

Why did you choose to read this book?

A lot of what I’ve read lately qualifies as literary fiction about a family over a long period of time. Fates and Furies examines the lives of and marriage between Lancelot Satterwhite and Mathilde Yoder. The first half of the book features Lancelot’s perspective and the second half Mathilde’s, including their respective childhoods, transition to adulthood, their marriage and ultimately their whole lives. Fates and Furies was nominated for a National Book Award last year.

Lancelot is born into a Florida family that has suddenly come into wealth by entering the business of bottling water when his father became a very successful businessman. After his father’s death, Lancelot repeatedly gets into trouble as a teenager and his mother sends him to boarding school in the Northeast and he continues on to college there too, where he meets Mathilde and they marry almost immediately. They settle into New York City. Lancelot begins adulthood as an aspiring actor and his career takes a “dramatic” turn while Mathilde supports him by working in an art gallery. Mathilde’s upbringing is revealed in the second half of the book.

What did you like about it?

The structure of the story lends the reader first to rely on Lancelot’s perspective, then to learn from Mathilde’s perspective that there is so much more to Lancelot’s story than he realilzes.

I was born around the same time as the main characters and a major hook for me was reflecting on where I was in my life when reading about the lives of Lancelot and Mathilde.

Did it remind you of any other book, or a movie?

What interested me in this book is similar to what drew me to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and David James Duncan’s The Brothers K. The similarities to these books are the literary nature of the writing and following a family through the lives of the main characters.

Was there anything noteworthy about the book?

Fates and Furies was nominated for a National Book Award last year.

What feeling did the book leave you with?

I started reading the book in small chunks, but finished it in a session over two hours one night. It was satisfying to finish the book and I felt rewarded by the surprising revelations over the second half of the book, though the action seemed to peak in the middle.

Who would you recommend the book to?

Like much of what I’ve read lately I recommend this to fans of literary fiction.

What would you pair this book with? (A food, drink, piece of clothing, time of day…anything) Examples: (I would pair the book Attachments with the songs Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega and No Scrubs by TLC to bring out that 1999 nostalgia.) OR (I would pair Dune with a glass of ice cold water because it makes me thirsty.) OR (I would pair The Martian with baked potatoes because, well, if you read it you know why.)

Reading this book would go well with preparations for hosting a big party.

About Stephen Brooks

Stephen is a reference librarian at Durham Tech. He has blogged previously at acqweb.org and for American Libraries magazine online. He enjoys reading 20th and 21st century literature, biographies and books about sports.