My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Mixed feelings about this one.
Lancelot, known to his intimates as Lotto, and Mathilde meet when they are in their early early 20s and baffle everyone who knows them — who knows Lotto in particular — by quickly marrying. The novel follows them throughout their married life, from dead broke college students to successful and well-to-do middle age and beyond, first from Lotto’s perspective (Fates), and then from Mathilde’s (Furies).
- The language is gorgeous.
- After having been married for quite some time myself, I’d say this a reasonably well-drawn and not entirely implausible study of a particular marriage, although not mine.
- I rather liked both Lotto and Mathilde for the majority of the story. The two of them reminded me in some ways of a married couple I know: a pair who met and married very young; who, to all appearances, are still passionately in love with each other after all these years; who wholeheartedly support each other in all their endeavors, business, artistic, and otherwise. (Special note just in case one or both of them might happen to read this book AND this review: By no means do I mean to imply that either keeps the kinds of secrets that make up the crux of this novel. In fact, I’d be shocked to the core to discover such a thing.)
- I loved the chronological synopses of Lotto’s plays as a device to show the passage of time. And the synopses themselves made me wish these were actual stage productions I could see performed somewhere.
Quibbles (some spoilers ahead if you haven’t read this):
- Given Lotto’s history of philandering prior to marriage, I found it somewhat incredible that he never strayed, especially given the temptation that presented itself due to his chosen profession. But maybe I’m just a cynic.
- Mathilde let him believe he was her first? And kept her voluntary sterilization a secret for decades? I can barely keep from telling my husband what I bought him for Christmas! Again with the incredulity.
- During Mathilde’s version of events, I came to dislike her, which made it difficult to view her with sympathy even as I understood why her section of the story is called “Furies”.
All things considered, I liked the story, although I ended not liking it as well as I had at the beginning. Regardless, I don’t regret the time I spent with this novel. It’s worth reading.