Monday, December 9, 2019

Book Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

I recognize that this book is well-written and (generally) well-structured. (I would have liked a little more emphasis on the mystery, what we do not know.) It's one of the few books about artistic genius in which the genius itself is convincingly portrayed, well enough for suspension of disbelief. But I didn't enjoy it and was sort of relieved when it was over, so I have to give it two stars on the subjective, sentimental systems Goodreads has set up. Maybe I was jealous of the genius playwright Lotto, or thought that the character of his wife, Matilde, was too focused on hidden layers, the 90% of the iceberg, although that's part of the point of the book. It's nicely ambiguous and decadent and I think there's people into that sort of thing, but to me it felt like a highfalutin' soap opera in which I didn't identify with any of the characters. It's supposed to be about a fabulous-looking marriage but I didn't sense any true love anywhere. When I character says "I love you beyond love" I simply do not believe it. All the desires come from within and not from without, which I think is unrealistic. There's a few passages where the character complains that all this love stuff is in the air and force-fed through culture, and the closing passage about what really makes a marriage is touching, but it's like the end of American Beauty -- it doesn't redeem all the actions in the book in which, sure, people defend their own and stick up for their spouse in various ways, seen and unseen, but it doesn't seem to amount to anything. It's never boring and it's got nice turns of phrase and descriptions and surprises galore. It's just not enough to make me like it, much less love it.