Lotto and Mathilde rush into marriage after a two-week courtship, barely more than strangers. The recent college graduates move to New York City, hoping to jump-start Lotto’s acting career. With Mathilde’s help, Lotto realizes his talents lie in playwriting and goes on to find critical acclaim and fame with his plays over the next decade. Lotto adores his wife, sometimes to the confusion of his friends who think she’s unremarkable, and even cuts off ties with his agoraphobic mother who expresses disapproval of the daughter-in-law she’s never met. Lotto struggles with bumps in his creative expression but always counts on Mathilde’s support to push him through his moments of writer’s block, helping him stumble into genius. The former playboy even has control over his insatiable lust because he loves his wife so deeply. He’s never met someone so truthful, pure, and supportive. So, how does Mathilde feel about their envied marriage?
Given the buzz surrounding Fates and Furies, I started the book hoping for Gone Girl levels of enthusiasm about this story. I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews that comparisons to Gone Girl usually tell me the book will be a huge disappointment, so I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked when I closed the book and sighed, “Meh.” The comparison between the two books only goes as far as the plots centering on secrets kept between spouses. Despite the description on the front flap promising a “twist” that will turn the story on its head, no such twist appears. The perspective shifts from Lotto’s story to Mathilde’s, uncovering her secrets, but the word “twist” implies an Earth-shattering revelation. I’m a sucker for twists that make me put down the book I’m reading so I can properly scream into the void. The only time I put down Fates and Furies was to close the book and go to sleep.
I don’t always need a huge twist to love a book, but the characters at least have to be lovable or love-to-hateable. Lotto and Mathilde weren’t lovable, likeable, or hateable. They were bland, relatively one-note characters. After learning Mathilde’s secrets, which are a bit scandalous, I still couldn’t see her as anything more than a lethargic doormat. Lotto’s backstory, riddled with tragedies that he forces himself to ignore, sets up the kind of damage that makes for compelling characterization. I almost liked him during his creative retreat with a young composer, but the character still resonated as dull and self-important. In addition to the characters being dull, the prose and dialogue was so purple and over-the-top all I could think was, “This is so pretentious.” Nearly every line was overwrought and exaggerated to the point where I had to re-read pages multiple times to discern what the author was getting at, which is never fun.
The theme of Fates and Furies is an insightful message about the dynamics within a marriage, but it was lost in dull fluff.
Rating: 2 out of 5 dogs named God