Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies

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Fates and Furies Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 53-page guide for “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 35 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Persona and Marriage.

Plot Summary

Originally published in 2015, Fates and Furies is the third novel by Lauren Groff. The book dissects the twenty-four-year-long marriage between Lotto Satterwhite and Mathilde Yoder. The novel starts with their quickie marriage and jumps around in a disjointed timeline to chronicle everything from their childhoods before meeting one another in college to Mathilde’s decades as a widow after Lotto’s death. The majority of the events circle around the two working as a pair to cultivate Lotto’s illustrious career as a Broadway playwright after a stalled debut in acting.

The first section of the book, ”The Fates,” is told from Lotto’s idealistic perspective, while the second part of the book, ”The Furies” showcases Mathilde’s alternative version of many of the previous events, in addition to offering details of other scenes in her life outside of Lotto that add another layer to the past events the two share.

Lotto is raised well-loved in a wealthy Florida mansion before being sent off to boarding school in New Hampshire. Mathilde lives a sad childhood of isolation in England, Paris, and Pennsylvania. Her loneliness culminates with her funding her college education with the help of her gallery-owner sugar daddy, Ariel.

Lotto’s acting prowess and unconventional good looks allow him great success with the ladies on campus. After gaining a reputation, Mathilde becomes intrigued and contrives that they meet “by chance“ at a college cast party.

Two weeks later, Mathilde and Lotto elope in Maine and enter the real world. Angered at his choice to marry Mathilde, Lotto’s mother cuts him off from his inheritance, and Mathilde and Lotto struggle financially in a one-bedroom apartment in the West Village. Lotto’s clingy best friend, Chollie, is also angry about their union because he knows Mathilde’s dirty secret after he saw her in the city before meeting her.

Lotto’s acting career stagnates, forcing Mathilde take a job at Ariel’s gallery in order to support them. Ariel crosses the line and Mathilde quits. Lotto finds success as a playwright with Mathilde’s secret help and things start to improve. Lotto wants kids and Mathilde doesn’t; they find happiness moving into a country house just outside the city. Lotto’s only sadness is his semi-estranged relationship with his mother, whose secret archenemy, Mathilde, has plotted to keep them apart for years.

After Lotto falls out of an airplane, he becomes somewhat of an alcoholic. He slumps creatively while waiting to get better from his injuries. Mathilde gets them a dog to try and make him happier. Lotto decides to write an opera while at an artist colony. He requisitions a promising young composer, Leo Sen, to partner with him. For the first time, Mathilde feels threatened Lotto will emotionally cheat on her and leaves him, going to Thailand before coming to her senses. The creative partnership fails, and while Lotto returns home none the wiser, his sense of belief is restored.

Lotto enjoys another string of successes and manages to please a finicky critic. When it becomes clear that Mathilde will not give Lotto a child, Chollie attempts to sabotage the couple with his long-held secret about Mathilde’s relationship with Ariel.

However, before Lotto and Mathilde can reconcile, Lotto dies of an aneurysm. Mathilde is submerged into loneliness and grief once more and it breaks her. Despite help from Lotto’s Aunt Sallie and sister Rachel, Mathilde instead finds solace in one-night stands and seeking revenge on Chollie.

One day, a handsome young admirer of Lotto’s arrives at Mathilde’s house in the middle of her grief. They end up sleeping together and the boy, Land, is the one person she enjoys since Lotto. Land is similar to Lotto because he is actually Lotto’s secret son with Gwennie, Chollie’s sister, from Lotto’s days on the beach as a teenager in Florida.

Mathilde starts to heal and move on with her life once she learns to forgive herself. She enjoys Parisian food and a quiet existence in her twilight years, sipping tea in a flat in England.

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