cover image Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies

Lauren Groff. Riverhead, $27.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-59463-447-5

In a swirling miasma of language, plot, and Greek mythology, Groff (Arcadia) weaves a fierce and gripping tale of true love gone asunder. Told in two interwoven parts, the fable-like story of Lancelot (Lotto) and Mathilde's 24-year marriage unfolds, first from Lotto's perspective, then Mathilde's. "Fates," the first part, takes readers through Lotto's mopey years as a failed actor living in "glamorous poverty" in New York City's Greenwich Village, his overnight success as a playwright, his struggles with aging, his perpetually hungry ego, his estrangement from his millionaire mother, and his gleeful infatuation with and dependency on his pale, bewitching wife. Meanwhile, Mathilde's all-consuming adoration for her husband doesn't completely jive with the dark secrets she's hiding from him. Of course, there's always the sex. Groff's prose is variously dewy, defiant, salacious, and bleak%E2%80%94a hurricane of words thrown together on every page. Yet so much of the power in this book lies in what's unspoken%E2%80%94Lotto's bottomless sorrow and self-pity flanked by Mathilde's white-hot rage and, later, her thirst for revenge. There are moments when the writing feels self-indulgent, but, for the most part, it's an intoxicating elixir. Perhaps Groff herself says it best: "It was less a story than a great creature surfacing from the deep; it was more sudden audible wave than narrative." Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (Sept.)