LeAnne: GeezerMom's Reviews > Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
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it was ok
bookshelves: litmus-test

For readers who love the theatre, have studied Greek classics and mythologies, who know which luminaries won Tony Awards this year, who titillate at hints of illicit acts of homosexuality by straights, or know the works of Shakespeare intimately, go ahead and follow the accolades. Read. Enjoy. I respect you literary art lovers but am not one of you.

This double set of stories, one apiece about the man and wife, going from childhood through their mid 40s, seemingly took forever for me to get through, despite it being lush and full of depth. The author can turn a phrase, certainly.

Despite the lovely description of the husband Lotto's childhood in Florida (which utterly enthralled me), my interest in the first section of the book faltered terribly when he hit the age of about 30. Seriously, this book covers 40 years of his life and then of hers - without some interesting twists, this thing was a ship going under water fast for me, and having to read the multiple plays-within-the-novel made me wish for a faster drowning. Reading the opera-within-the-novel?? Omg. Pass the poison. And I actually love opera! Unfortunately, because of my general disinterest in stage plays, Greek mythology (many character names are twists on the gods' names), and the (IMO) shallowness of the characters, I got to know the husband but never really cared about him.

The wife's half of the book was (thank the gods) slightly more interesting, but the "big" surprises left me shrugging. Meh. Who cares?

I did not like Lotto or Mathilde and found them ridiculously self absorbed - with the exception of their interest in having sex with each other. I really wish I had this book on Kindle so I could do a search on various phrases relating to intercourse to see how often it came up. Pun intended. Maybe I should rewrite this review with even more sophomoric sexual innuendos in every paragraph to give you a feel for the book - they were everywhere. An example is that Lotto the husband and playwright wrote the lyrics to an opera based on Antigone (who in myths was sentenced to eternal life) but wants to call it Anti-Gonad. Sexual references all over the place. If you're 19 or uber lusty, you may like it.

Seriously, I must have bumped into sex at least once every 45 minutes for the 35 hours it took me to listen to this. Sex became so boring and so commonplace that it was akin to a tired waitress emptying the coffee filter, rinsing, and refilling it at an all night truck stop. The bottomless cup, yet always weak.

All in all, I just kept seeing the author trying too hard behind her scenes and her (to me) shallow characters. I believe every character, minor or not, should be built like a pearl from the inside out. Hers felt hollow and many one dimensional. The author projected herself as very affected or pretentious to me, not just by writing herself in as a side character in the story, but with the whole idea of human scent.

Im sorry, but do you honestly know anybody who smells of persimmons? Have you ever even smelled a persimmon? Can you smell lavender or stone dust or ice or roses or cinnamon or the ocean in the skin of someone - no, not their shampoo or deodorant or lotion or perfume, but their very being? Do you seriously think everybody has an identifiable odor? Such pretentiousness. But I guess that is theatre, dahling. Not my cup of tea. Writing:very good. My enjoyment:minimal
3 stars
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Reading Progress

October 14, 2015 – Shelved
October 14, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
June 20, 2016 – Started Reading
June 27, 2016 –
5.0% "Reading your child Revelations in the middle of the night - by matchlight in the dark. As one wooden match burns down to your fingers, blow it out to stop right there, light another, and read yet another line till it burns you again."
June 27, 2016 –
20.0% "Where is this going? I intentionally didnt read reviews...in suspense now!"
June 28, 2016 –
38.0% "Lotto is at the artists' retreat, and now that the ice storm is over he is headed over to Leo's cabin to work on their opera. I AINT BUYIN IT. No way at 40 something he is going this route. Tiring of the story..."
June 28, 2016 –
41.0% "Oh brother The opera in here stinks Better improve"
June 29, 2016 –
52.0% "How long IS this book?"
June 29, 2016 – Finished Reading
June 4, 2017 – Shelved as: litmus-test

Comments Showing 1-45 of 45 (45 new)

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Diane S ☔ Good review. felt the exact same way about this book.


LeAnne: GeezerMom I saw your 3 stars and wondered. Luminaries left me feeling a similar way. I kept wondering what everybody was raving about.


Diane S ☔ In this book I was the fury because after reading fate I wanted to fling the book across the room. Lol


message 4: by Diane (new) - added it

Diane Barnes So many different opinions on this one. I am inclined to leave it alone for now.


message 5: by Angela M (new)

Angela M I decided not to read this and your review makes me think I made the right decision. Thanks , LeAnne.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Diane S - YES!!! And only a highly affected author names the damn dog GOD.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Diane and Angela, many others adored it. No clue how y'all would feel about it.


message 8: by Kelli (new)

Kelli Don't think I'd like this but loved your review thanks!


LeAnne: GeezerMom Kelli, thank you. I was very hopeful with its beginning - Lotto's mom is a Wiki Watchee mermaid when she meets his father. It had an interesting start.


Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters Your review is a riot! I LOVE IT!!!!! You write great juicy sentences ....FUN to READ!!!!!


LeAnne: GeezerMom Elyse, after being mired in something unlikeable for this many hours, it feels good to rant! Love your sense of humor :)


Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters Ranting boosts the metabolism...
so it's time wine & chocolate! :). A nice sedative before bedtime! :)
xo


message 13: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy I loved your review! Very entertaining!


message 14: by Rae (new)

Rae Meadows Love it, LeAnne, and I know you are not alone on this one. I have dragged my feet in getting to it...


message 15: by Zoeytron (new)

Zoeytron I've been waffling on this one. Your review touched on some things that lets me know I'll be happier to give it a good lettin' alone. Well done, LeAnne!


message 16: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie I have this on my tbr list but I am going to rethink! Your review is great!


Taryn I felt the same way! Lotto and Mathilde's relationship was so empty to me and the dog's name seriously made me roll my eyes!


LeAnne: GeezerMom Taryn wrote: ".. the dog's name seriously made me roll my eyes!"

I wondered if in the print version of the book the dog was named "god" and not "God." Was it? Maybe people who studied all the Greek tragedies loved all the parallels, but it was too gimmicky for me. Not only the terms fates (three Greek goddesses that court fate and destiny), furies, Gawain, Lancelot, Mathilde (warrior woman), Gwennie (sounds like a nickname Guinevere to me), and Chollie - I thought his name was CHARLIE! Does anybody know what Chollie is in mythology? - were all tied to myths or Shakespeare. Lancelot also writes the lyrics to an opera based on Antigone (who in myths was sentenced to eternal life) but wants to call it Anti-Gonad. Sexual references all over the place yet again.

And for my last rant on affectation, did you know that in the scenes at the writer's conclave, the author writers herself into the story? Yup. SHE is the blonde novelist who goes home to her boys. Sorry babe. Time to get your roots highlighted.


Taryn In the print version, the dog's name is uppercase "God." That is interesting that she wrote herself into the story! I had no idea!


Kelly Bules I actually like it. I hated the plays within the plays, though, but I liked a lot of the rest. Very interesting writing style. The characters were certainly pretentious, but that was part of who they were, I thought. The funny thing about pretentious people is that most of them don't think they are. Which begs the questions, maybe I am?!?! Nah... no way
:-)


message 21: by Sara (new) - rated it 1 star

Sara I ditched it when I realized it was not doing it for me at all. Take a bow for finishing it at all.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Kelly, lots of folks loved it, otherwise it would not have garnered the reviews it did. I mostly was just bored with 85% of the first half and didnt feel we saw any depth behind Antoinette, the art gallery owner, etc. It was the author's pretension, not the characters' that irritated me. I love a good story where I hate the characters!! Summer House With Pool and Serena and Feast of Snakes had despicable main characters, but those books ROCKED.

President Obama said this is his favorite book of the year, so you are not alone.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Sara, I will take that bow for sticking it out, but its put me in a foul humor. Like Ive been gargling with turpentine >_<


message 24: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn LeAnne - you are very right about those that did like the book ! HA! English teachers , crazy for mythology, the arts and any references to theatre, composers, acting methods, and even the settings of Florida and New York . Also the artist communities and being around the creative types that are often very shallow and self- centered but insecure people in many ways that most consider very narcissistic you want to hate them but at the same time you pity them . Their strange genius as the commoners that patronize the arts and pay to see anything that is totally outlandish or just different rather than truly pleasing to the senses, is often mistaken as genius when it is really based on higher level analytical thinking skills because of loneliness as children . These children behave creatively to gain attention , as Lotto , because of his lack of love , affection and his dysfunctional family . This is often the case with most creative types everywhere and in the world of Mythology the gods and goddesses with the fates and furies and the muses for creative purposes were set up as an analogy to the world of the arts . The whole story was a juxtaposition or a sarcastic and sad examination of our societies treatment of the famed and a look at the famed themselves . Her prose was lovely in my mind because I love poetry and humor too! She did make you think for a bit about her sentimental descriptions . Her hair smelled of the sea is one I think you used. There is a smell about everything you love if you truly want to remember someone who is there and then is no longer. I know it is silly . I miss my dog , Biscuit so terribly bad . We had to put him to rest almost two years ago come this December. Biscuit slept with me most every night until he was to old and we were afraid he may fall or he may want to wonder for water of to others rooms in the night. I knew his smell . I felt when I looked in his eyes the unconditional love only an animal as your beloved pet can teach you about and give so graciously.

The name from the dog as god could have been just that idea. The dog was the only way that both Mathilde and Lotto received and learned of unconditional love as our Heavenly Father God gives all of his children here everyday. I thank God that I had my little dog for that love. My parents give me that too, but as in Lotto and Matihilde's story they did not have that unconditional parental love . Some children never do.
I gave this book five stars because I did have the old artsy fartsy background and I also found in the details so much relevance in the lives today between this story and how our society looks at relationships of love, friendship, family, social, community, and even on the influence in our culture . We do not really have the greatness in our fine arts as we have had in our past cultures of popular arts. Do we want our legacy in these years of creative culture to be known as the years for Justin Beber, Beyoncé , our President's average golf score , would Hamilton really be happy that his life is performed as a rap musical ? I just seemed to


message 25: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn Oops! I hit post accidentally !


message 26: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn I was just going to say that I seemed to give the book a broader outlook and did not take it so seriously . Lauren Groff is a good writer. This was a long time in the making and took a great deal of knowledge to put together. The historical research alone was incredible because most of the references to the artists and operas and plays etc.. If looked up were cleverly attached to true life references . I don't mind that . I admire the organization and brilliance it takes to write that way . I hope I did not step on toes . I totally agree this book was not for everyone . I just think , I was the type to like it and those were my reasons. I hope I clarified it so it does sound not to bad at least for her to name the dog symbolically that way . I admit that was not to great . I just always remembered as a little girl , the first Bible verse I memorized was , " God is Love." That is why I understood about the dog .
Thank you for reading ~ Dawn


LeAnne: GeezerMom So glad you loved the book, Dawn! I got the impression that the author is an atheist, so the idea of unconditional love coming from the dog as opposed to the unconditional love from God wasnt something that occurred to me. I interpreted it that they were mocking God - but Im the least qualified to interpret her meaning. Interesting point!


message 28: by DeB (new)

DeB MaRtEnS Brilliantly funny review, Leanne! You've confirmed my decision of removing from my TBR books a while ago...


message 29: by Liz (new)

Liz Ha, well if there's one thing I can't stand in a book it's pretentiousness, and you are the first person I've seen use that word with regard to this book. I removed it from my list a few months ago. Thanks for the review.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Well, it is entirely possible that Im just a yutz. The literati seem to love this book, so - just a matter of taste :)


Robin Yep LeAnne, my bookie bestie, once again you hit the nail on the head. Awesome review.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Thank you!


message 33: by Bibi (new)

Bibi OMG. Pass the poison. I nearly died of laughter, Leanne! Great review.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Thanks, Bibi! If you nearly died, maybe somebody did pass the poison ?? The opera was entitled Anti-Gonad. You can imagine the plot.


message 35: by Lata (new)

Lata Thank you for the funny review.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Lata wrote: "Thank you for the funny review."

Thank you - glad you stopped by!


message 37: by Vanessa (new) - added it

Vanessa Haha this review is awesome. I want to read it now just to find all the sexual references you mentioned ;p


message 38: by Liz (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liz Yup. This one didn't really do it for me either.


Sarah Tittle Yep.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Erk! I never turned on notifications and am only seeing y’all’s comments. It seems I really DID want to repress this, my dahlings!


message 41: by Caroline (last edited Dec 30, 2017 12:18PM) (new) - added it

Caroline "Im sorry, but do you honestly know anybody who smells of persimmons? Have you ever even smelled a persimmon? Can you smell lavender or stone dust or ice or roses or cinnamon or the ocean in the skin of someone - no, not their shampoo or deodorant or lotion or perfume, but their very being? Do you seriously think everybody has an identifiable odor?"

I've never smelled a persimmon, no, and I've never noticed anyone smelling any way other than like B.O., some sort of perfume, or...nothing at all, just...human. I guess that means sweaty or something. So many authors write like this about scents, of people smelling like cinnamon or peppermint or vanilla, (or snow! WTH?), or whatever random scent. It's so dumb. Unless you're a bloodhound, you don't detect anything of the sort on someone.

I didn't finish this book. I found it intensely boring and overwritten.


LeAnne: GeezerMom Caroline wrote: ""Im sorry, but do you honestly know anybody who smells of persimmons? Have you ever even smelled a persimmon? Can you smell lavender or stone dust or ice or roses or cinnamon or the ocean in the sk..."

You won't believe this, but we had a couple persimmon trees in the backyard of our old house! LOL - they didn't smell like anything at all and the taste was like baking soda but more bitter.

Anyway, yep to the pretentious smell of people. Personally, when i hit those repeated descriptors, all I smelled was a stinker. ;)


message 43: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline LeAnne wrote: "You won't believe this, but we had a couple persimmon trees in the backyard of our old house! LOL - they didn't smell like anything at all . . . "

Oh, wow. Well, then that says that the authors who write this must have never actually smelled a persimmon. O.o


message 44: by Tom LA (new)

Tom LA Thank you. I’ll steer miles away from this one. Now I understand why NPR was raving about it. (P.s.: fuck NPR)


message 45: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa I expect the people in your first paragraph enjoy this book the LEAST, because they know most clearly how the arts are misused in this pretentious novel.


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