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item1b1b LaurenGroff item1b1b

What was it about?

The novel follows the story of Lotto Satterwhite, who comes from a wealthy Southern family, and Mathilde, about whom we know very little. They fall in love and marry. The first half of the story, 'Fate' is Lotto's, but in the second part of the book, 'Fury', Mathilde takes over.


What did we think of it?

For us Lotto was a divisive figure; some found him boring and one-dimensional while others fell for his charisma and life-force. He was oblivious to so much... to Mathilde, to the times in which he lived, he profoundly lacked self-knowledge and never really had to grow up. Meanwhile Mathilde, do we sympathise with her or hate her? All agreed she was a powerful and compelling character and there was much pleasure to be had in the gradual revelations about her side of the love story. Was it a love story? Mathilde was completely messed up but she did devote her life to Lotto and was ultimately lost without him.

We enjoyed the way this novel explored more general themes of relationships between men and women, truth and lies, poverty and affluence. Critical points for us were with Lotto's early years – we felt Groff only really found her voice with his character in his middle years. Meanwhile Mathilde's ambiguity is explained by a series of events in her past that raised more than a few eyebrows and for some stretched credibility too far. Others, though, were happy to go with it in return for this magnetic, furious, beautiful character, and for the love story, whether it rested on truth or lies.


Would we recommend it?

Without hesitation. The only thing to say about it is the less you know before you start the better, so don't be tempted to read too many reviews. Would suit anyone who enjoys immersive fiction, larger-than-life characters who are gilded with glamour and charisma that conceals dark secrets.



I thoroughly enjoyed this, it put the pleasure back into reading. It was a very contemporary novel exploring the point we're all at in terms of gender and sexuality – this probably couldn't have been written ten years ago, and I loved that. It was full of brilliant surprises. A great read.




I iked Mathilde's character but I didn't get Lotto at all. I loved the first scene, the sex in the sand dunes, but after that the story lost intensity and I could never picture Lotto. I found him really dull. I found Mathilde's section much more intriguing but I never enjoyed it enough to make me forget the first half.




A rattling good read. I loved the opposing views and the idea that relationships between people are never straightforward – no-one ever knows another person entirely, that totally rang true for me. There were some slightly unconvincing plotlines but as Groff brushes through them fairly quickly they didn't bother me too much. I loved Mathilde and her inner rage.




The enormous pleasure for me was in the twists and turns and how cleverly they were handled. I loved the glamour and charisma of these characters and although I was troubled by Mathilde's slightly over-the-top backstory I thought she was a genius character; I never quite knew whether to sympathise with her or hate her. And I thought Groff explored the ultimate unknowability of people brilliantly.




For me Lotto was unproblematic but I found Mathilde to be an empty void, blotting paper, in a way I couldn't relate to at all. I found Lotto's mother implausible, but she was one of many melodramatic or allegorical figures, I couldn't quite work out how to decode. I also found the square bracket text jarred – to me it seemed a lazy way of giving an authorial birds-eye view – but in general I did find Groff's writing beautiful and overall this was an enjoyable read.




A very modern love story. I don't often read much contemporary fiction that I find has real love in it, the connection two people can share that is true and real – strange as there was so little honesty in their relationship. But Lotto and Mathilde each gave the other something they needed. I found some of the complexities of the plot overly contrived, a little over the top where the novel didn't need it, but in general I was left thinking about this for a long time after I read it.




I thoroughly enjoyed this. I loved the first part and then was overwhelmed by the twists and turns of the second half. Mathilde is so controlled and so powerful. She manipulated all the relationships around her. I thought it a great romance; I definitely saw the love between them.

Fates and Furies scored

This book club took place on 20 September when we Londoners had basked in a freakish week of late-summer hot weather. We gathered at Natalie's house in Ealing to curl up on her handmade quilts, eat delicious Mexican food (well away from the quilts) and discuss the book.

Our new PM Theresa May is proving to be a hard-hitter cracking down on striking NHS doctors and greenlighting nuclear power plants. Turns out those shoes were made for unequivocal steps. In other news Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee chain, are apparently to start opening coffee shops here in the UK. And we're getting the cool polymer bank notes they have in Australia – the Bank of England has just started releasing plastic fivers.

Also discussed • Prison Break as a manual for life • House of Cards (Robyn Wright as Mathilde) • moving to Bournemouth • Anne Patchett's new novel Commonwealth [Sally says it is great] • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout • the financial apocalypse and Swimming with Sharks by Joris Luyendik • seasickness

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