This book is about a marriage between Lotto (Lancelot) and Mathilde, a couple who met when they were in their final year at collage, and went on to have a long marriage. So is this book a template on how to have a long and happy marriage? Well, I hope not! This is a marriage whose foundation is built on secrets, not outright lies but those truths that remain unspoken can be just as fundamental to a relationship.
There was much to enjoy in this book, the gradual revelation of the hidden selves was expertly handled with their life initially described by Lotto (in the fates) and then reflected on by Mathilde (in the furies). I enjoyed viewing the same events from a different perspective with Lotto being in turn exuberant and throwing parties when life goes well, and depressed and needing coaxing back to life when his dreams of being an actor falter. Mathilde by comparison is the woman behind the man, ever supportive of Lotto and equally willing to be the hostess so that he can take centre stage at his parties. We meet their friends some of whom remain constant throughout the marriage turning up with new partners and babies at intervals marking the passing of time.
What is harder in this book is the style, the prose is at times so flowery with an excessive use of metaphors and links to Greek mythology that at times I did something I rarely do, I skipped whole paragraphs simply because it was so cloying and quite frankly difficult to read. To use my mother’s phraseology in parts it just felt like ‘showing-off.’ Part of the problem I had was that although the book spans over two decades not a lot actually happens, and although the author cleverly gives us snapshots of their life at distinct points, allowing the reader to fill in the gaps, at over four hundred pages there was just far too much of nothing happening. I’m sure the style overshadowed the content that was buried within the pages although it seemed to reflect Lotto’s narcissistic tendencies, it completely overshadowed Mathilde even when the spotlight was on her.
In conclusion this was a great premise, I didn’t mind that both characters had flaws, or that despite the secrets, on the whole this was a successful partnership, rather I thought the author created a truth that opposes conventional wisdom in this piece. It is hard to say that if the writing style had been less ostentatious this would have been a better book, as I did like some of the quirkiness, particularly the way the author made comments on the characters thoughts, because I think in some ways the language helped to disguise the characters true nature until the secrets were uncovered but for me it was all a little too much.
I received a copy of this book through Amazon Vine in return for this, my honest review. Fates and Furies is due to be published on 15 September 2015.