A thick drizzle from the sky, like a curtain’s sudden sweeping. The seabirds stopped their tuning, the ocean went mute. House-lights over the water dimmed to gray.
Two people were coming up the beach. She was fair and sharp in a green bikini, though it was May in Maine and cold. He was tall, vivid; a light flickered in him that caught the eye and held it. Their names were Lotto and Mathilde.
This is how Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies’ begins. With a bang. On a beach. Published in 2015, Lotto and Mathilde remain the main characters throughout the book. Barack Obama chose this book as his favorite from 2015. But a hundred pages in and I was wondering why. Not that the prose isn’t beautiful. In fact, it is mesmerizing at times. And the story is entertaining and all that. It is just that I don’t like this Lotto guy. He is self-centered and egotistical; the story is all about him and it bothers me. What about his wife? Where is her voice? She is so quiet. Another element that bothers me is how he becomes – surprise, surprise – this successful playwright while she remains ‘the wife of’. And then, the perspective changes and everything changes with it. And you can’t stop thinking about this book and Mathilde. If you like surprises and beautiful writing, if you like Greek mythology and tragedy, this is the book for you.
On a side note. The movie ‘The Wife’ with Glenn Close reminded me of this book. (For those of you who have seen the movie, no, I did not just give away the plot of the book.) It reminded me because it came with the same question of ‘Where is this story going?’ for a long time. But what is true for the movie, is true for the book: sometimes, the wait is worth it!