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FMN Book Club

Time for a new read for the month of May while also reviewing the brilliant Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff. And by the looks of things thanks to all the insta messages and stories I’ve seen, I’m not the only one who loved this book…. Beware of the spoilers if you haven’t finished it yet!

So before I get onto the next book for May (excited for you to read this one), let’s talk Fates & Furies which none other than Barack Obama cited as his favourite book in 2015. What did you guys think? I for one became really obsessed with this book, especially the ‘Furies’ narrative belonging to Mathilde. I’m a real sucker for a great American coming of age story and this book was essentially one huge coming of age story, littered with demons, revenge, unspoken truths and a marriage based on love and lies in equal measure. I thought the writing was beyond smart; Groff managed to cement her own style throughout while also showing a real point of difference in tone and voice between theatrical, dramatic Lotto and steely, capable Mathilde. While at its surface it was the story of a marriage, at its core it was so much more than that. Just like Lotto’s surreal, mythical musical at the end of the book, it’s about human connection, needs, longing, growth and existence. It’s about how marriage is just the start of the story, not the end.

I’m not going to pretend that certain moments of Lotto’s narrative didn’t feel a little like wading a through tar, in fact it was only when I really got to know Mathilde in a deeper way that I wanted to go back and read Lotto’s narrative again. Her story, as with so many ‘behind the scenes’ wives throughout history and today, fills in the gaps of Lottos and indeed their togetherness. While thankful and grateful to his eternally patient wife, Lotto’s story was about himself, whereas Mathilde’s is about the both of them (a story as old as time). The age-old phrase ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ has never rung more true, albeit in deeper than you could ever imagine ways.  While Lotto’s narrative is narcissistic, self-consciously so but none the less, narcissistic in a self-indulgent, swooning, tragic and at times loveable way, Mathilde’s is cooly assessing and the tragedies that befell her in her youth don’t have the Romantic, fateful edge Lotto’s do.While narcissistic, Lotto did love Mathilde fiercely and he felt almost childlike the whole way through the book which was his saving grace in terms of affability. When he walked miles back to their hotel in San Francisco after realising his misogynistic speech had upset Mathilde was pitiful and over-dramatic in equal measure but essentially came from a good place. The fact that he arrived at the hotel bedraggled, injured and literally on his last legs so in the end, Mathilde couldn’t be angry with him and had to take care of him was infuriating and the sort of behaviour any woman that’s been in a long term relationship can relate to. I want to be mad at you but now you’ve ruined yourself in some way and I have to take care of you because that’s in my DNA gahhhhh!

loved antihero Mathilde fiercely by the end of her story, but her silence and seemingly smiling resilience throughout Lotto’s story made me almost scared of her. As someone who struggles to bite their tongue in relationships, her ability to support in silence and manipulate in private was baffling and magnificent in equal measure. While the way she loves and feels might not be the same as the rest of us at times, Lotto’s description of her made me want to shake her. It was only reading her version that made me see her in a whole new light and respect. Without her furies, neither of them would have got where they did and the rage she feels at Chollie at the end after telling Lotto about herself and Ariel, feels almost tangible. I for one was rooting for her in a big way and loved her even more when she did the right thing at the end of book. I think I almost cheered to myself when she bought the plot of land and house in France and demolished it. YES! Needless to say, Mathilde isn’t the forgiving kind. She was something of a sympathetic Lady Macbeth character to me, and it was her story that made Lotto’s so much more interesting. While Lotto had his fair share of tragedy, it also had the familial backing of knowing he was bound fro greatness whereas Mathilde’s grew up believing she was innately bad and unloveable, a burden you couldn’t help but sympathise with even if she herself was inherently lacking in warmth. 

Lotto’s sexuality, Mathilde’s past; their hidden secrets broke my heart for both of them in equal measure. But I wondered if I really wanted each of them to know all of each other’s secrets? And the answer is probably no. Mathilde needed Lotto to see her as ‘pure’, innocent and untarnished for both of them in a way, while Lotto’s love for his muse/backbone/support system Mathilde ultimately was enough to quell anything else. They saw what they wanted to see but also what the other person wanted them to see, albeit as far as closed-book Mathilde was concerned. For me, the real tragedy was Mathilde believing Lotto died unforgiving and believing she’d cheated, but I took comfort in knowing that he did indeed forgive, albeit something that never happened the way he thought it did. I’m recommending this book to everyone and anyone, men and women. Lyrical and enthralling, I loved the descriptive insights into Lotto’s Floridian youth, their house in upstate New York, Mathilde’s transatlantic Journey(s)…. I couldn’t help but be in awe of Lauren Groff as a writer and be slightly boggled by her skill and general mind.

Now, time for the next read. This month’s is a little lighter than Fates & Furies, not in subject matter necessarily but in terms of page-turning, this was more of an easy-going read. Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller is going to be this months new read. I recently devoured this book in Mexico and loved it. Unlike previous FMN Book Club picks, this feels more English and again revolves around families, secrets, daughters finding their way and marriages based on lies, only this time set between London and the Dorset coastline. I think you guys are really going to love this… I haven’t read her previous book ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’ but now want to for sure. So maybe two this month if we can stretch that far?!

It’s a new read so is mainly still in hardback but available on kindles of course too. As always please do share your thoughts on Fates and Furies below (I love getting everyone’s spin on things) and get buying the next read so we can keep on with this year’s worth of reads together. Thanks so much to all who joined in and read this and previous FMN Book Club reads, I love how many of you are getting behind this. I have so many more great ones I’m getting really excited to read this year so I have a feeling we haven’t even found the best of the year yet…

Till next month guys.

Red bandeau bikini | Eres
Red strappy bikini | Love Stories 
Hat | Janessa Leone 


Photographed at Cuixmala, Mexico. More soon! 



  • Perfect place!

  • Thanks for the awesome recommendations!!

    I hope you have a lovely Friday,

  • Emma Mercer

    Hi Lucy,

    I haven’t actually finished the book yet so have refrained from reading your review (Lancelot is just about to leave the writer’s retreat after finding Leo gone!)
    I am enjoying the book and do look forward to getting into bed every night to read it. I think Lancelot is fascinating; his character, a whirlwind of oxymorons. Lazy yet dramatically driven. Adoration for women in his early life and now, devotion solely for Mathilde. I like Lotto’s character thus far although, admittedly, I am finding some of his narrative rather dull…. particularly the writers retreat section!

    Because of the way this book is written and the complexity of the language, Fates and Furies takes a lot of concentration but I’m enjoying it; I haven’t read a book in this style for so long. To me, when I first started it, I felt as though it should have been set in the 40s or 50s!

    It won’t take me long to finish it now and then I’m looking froward to getting stuck into the Swimming Lessons.

    Emma X

  • Ginny Woods

    Having missed the previous FMN book club reads and not actually reading a book for a couple of years I was looking forward to joining in with Fates & Furies. I did find it quite a heavy read, although I soon got stuck into the story of Lotto…..I didn’t really feel the Scene scripts were relevant and tended to skip those as I was struggling to keep up with it as it was. Overall I enjoyed Fates but have to say I wasn’t totally clear on what happened at the end, I just hoped it would all make sense in Furies…which I thought would be a rather ordinary tale of Mathilde’s life. How wrong was I!!! I was thoroughly gob smacked on finding out the true story of Mathilde, in fact I actually dreamt about it that night after I started to read her story. Quite a scary lady but incredibly strong and I really admired her but at the same time not massively warming to her. I felt a moment of reflection on finishing the book, Mathilde never found that happiness again after Lotto, all those years, eventually finding comfort in the small everyday things, and that is how life sometimes is!
    Just about to collect Swimming Lessons from the library…..

  • Great photos! :)

  • Kelly Marie

    So glad to hear that at times reading Lotto’s narrative felt like “wading through tar” for you! I felt the same way and had a difficult time understanding why everyone raves about this book– that is, until I read Mathilde’s story. I wasn’t a fan of how much the author jumped around. I wanted to read more of this glamorous couple’s marriage! I agree, I thought Lotto was narcissistic. In the part where he was injured, I thought he was very self-centered and immature. I’m sure it’s difficult to go from living an active, enticing life in the city to being bedridden and unable to care for yourself, but he acted so pitiful and depressed that I got the impression he never thinks of others and how other people go through difficult times. Does that make any sense? Basically, I just found him extremely narcissistic and privileged; in a way that made it hard for me to read or care about him.

    However, when I read Mathilde’s narrative I was completely engrossed in their story! I loved her strong, capable character, and her buried secrets. She was, in a way, kind of evil, but I was rooting for her, too. I want reread the first half, now.

    Ordering the next book now! xx

  • dk

    It took me a while to get into the Rhythm of the book but I’m glad I did. I was by far much more impressed by the writing than the narrative. But I don’t mean it in a bad way. Just, there were times where I re-read and re-read sentences and marveled at them, knowing that, as a non native English speaker, I would never be able to express ideas in such a beautiful and poignant way. The story is truly made by the second part. Only by getting Mathilde’s perspective as well, the reader can see that this marriage works because / in spite of its secrets. The unconditional love Lotto felt for Mathilde, even though she refused him of being a father himself, was something the reader was made aware of during “Fates”, but the fruits of that unconditional love were seen in “Furies”. At the end Mathilde realized that she is not a broken devilish girl, but a person worthy of love. Lotto’s love had transformed her from an angry girl to a woman capable of letting her demons go. And she, in her own accord, had brought the best writer in him out. Aren’t those the best marriages? – Two broken people making each other hole.

  • woooooow, agrrrrr so jealous

  • Just wow, super gorgeous images babe and I’m totally obsessed with these swimsuits x

    Millie x

  • The Gold Lipstick

    Absolutely love it!

    Mireia from TGL

  • Looks like the perfect relax spot! | Luxury. Fashion. Lifestyle.


  • Sian Hunter

    i have to say, this hasn’t been my favourite book so far, but it was still great to read. i found the writing style to be a little bit much sometimes, especially the dramatic telling of lottos life. the little asides to the audience had me rolling my eyes at times. mathildes story was so much more enthralling and i was disappointed that lottos dominated the book as she was a far more interesting character. it was an excellent portrayal of marriage though, and the dynamic of men and women. it felt all too familiar at times, especially the part you mentioned above when he walked for miles and then had to be looked after. infuriating! a really interesting story though. I’m looking forward to swimming lessons. after finishing fates and furies i started reading strange heart beating by eli goldstone. I’m really enjoying it so far and i feel like you might like it too

  • Florence Sandberg

    I wonder how many people generally give up with the book on Lotto’s part. Unfortunately I have to agree with the ‘wading through tar’ comment… I found the repeated insert of script scenes really tedious too (One or two would have worked to highlight his dramatic tendencies). I was also thinking at this point, god Mathilde is a little too pure to be interesting, can’t she have any flaws or fuck ups. And then part two. Raced through this section and enjoyed re-reading in my mind part one in light of Mathilde’s narrative revelations.

    P.s this book club is a fabulous idea, please keep it up!

  • Sarah Shenston

    I LOVED this book – thank you so much for choosing it. I agree with everything you said above and the whole two sides of the story reminded me of Gone Girl which is another fav of mine (book not the film)! I found both Lotto and Mathide’s characters incredibly complex, sad and exciting. Just when i thought i knew them, there were more twists and secrets. I struggled with Mathilde more than Lotto – Lotto was – as you put it – a narcissist who took his wife for granted but also displayed a love for her i rarely hear or read about. It was beautiful. But i enjoyed reading Mathilde more. I struggled with her only because unlike Lotto she had two very different sides to her and the hidden side (revealed in the second half of the book) made me uncomfortable in places but made me understand how much Lotto loved her too. I wish i could be that patient and supportive with my own partner! lol! Anyway i could go on discussing this book for hours but as i said you said it all above. I cannot wait to read Swimming Lessons xxx

  • Julie Pietrzak

    I was surprisingly impressed by this book. The comparisons to Gone Girl made me want to run for the hills, but I found it much more intricate and interesting than that. Apparently like most other readers, it was slow for me to get into (chuckled at your wading through tar comparison), but then I couldn’t put it down. Lotto’s Don Juan beginnings were transformed for me midway, coinciding with his life being completely changed by the opera. Mathilde shocked and stunned me, but I found her more relatable than unlikeable, and I was lapping up her surprises (sushi pun intended), one after the next. It was a remarkable portrayal of the complexities of marriage and brought to mind Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. Sad to see it end.

  • Love those summer colors!

  • Ciara

    Lucy I am so glad you got me to read this book it was amazing. I read it in two days and hated having to finish it. Groff’s style of writing is so enchanting, it felt like reading poetry and I was hooked from the beginning. I’ve seen so many people compare it to Gone Girl (which I hated) and can only say that this is a far superior piece of writing and also story.
    I agree with you about Lotto’s narcissism, although I felt that he couldn’t be nay other way. He was raised as a golden child by his parents and aunt, and that praise and adoration for him is pushed on him by everyone he meets. Similarly, Mathilde’s upbringing and experiences are so harsh and loveless that it would be some sort of miracle for her to be anything but cold.
    I found when I was reading it that I understood why Mathilde kept what she did from Lotto and that despite having all of these secrets she did truly love him. However, after finishing it and thinking on it, I don’t think that is the case. I understand not telling him about her deal with Ariel and why she felt she needed to be pure for Lotto, and also why she never spoke about what happened with her brother. But Lotto never knew that she was had grown up in France, and so many other things about her. Her whole life was a lie to him, he knew nothing at all about who she was as a person, and whilst I believe he was self obsessed enough to not obsess about it, it means that everything she told him about her life before they met in their final days of college is a lie. I guess I just struggle to believe that she could truly love him and keep so much of her life such a secret.
    I could talk about Mathilde for hours though and I enjoyed this book so much. I’ve got Swimming Lessons lined up for the bank holiday weekend so cannot wait to discuss that. X