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1-Page Summary of Fates And Furies
Lauren Groff published her third novel, Fates and Furies, in 2015. The book focuses on the marriage between Lotto Satterwhite and Mathilde Yoder. It jumps around a lot to tell what happened from their childhoods before they met one another at college to Mathilde’s decades as a widow after Lotto died. Most of the events focus on how they worked together to cultivate his career as a Broadway playwright after he failed as an actor.
The book begins with Lotto’s point of view, but then switches to Mathilde’s. He is raised well-loved in a wealthy house before being sent off to boarding school. She lives a sad childhood of isolation from England, Paris and Pennsylvania. Her loneliness culminates when she funds her college education by becoming the sugar baby of an art dealer who owns galleries around the world.
Lotto is a good actor and has great looks. He attracts the ladies on campus, which gives him an impressive reputation. Mathilde wants to meet Lotto because of his reputation. She plots that they will meet at a college party by chance.
Two weeks later, Mathilde and Lotto elope in Maine. They enter the real world, but they struggle financially because Mathilde’s mother doesn’t support their marriage.
Lotto’s acting career stagnates, forcing Mathilde to 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 is unhappy about his relationship with his mother because of her history with Mathilde; this puts strain on their marriage until it improves years later when he meets her again through an old friend who introduces him to one of her other daughters-in-law, whom he falls in love with.
Lotto gets injured in a plane accident, so he becomes an alcoholic. He’s not as creative anymore and can’t write the way he used to. Mathilde gives him a dog to help cheer up his mood. Lotto decides to start writing music again at an artist colony, but instead of working with another composer, he partners with Leo Sen (a younger composer). Mathilde feels threatened by this partnership because she thinks that Lotto will cheat on her emotionally while they work together. She leaves him for a while before realizing how silly it is for her to think that way and coming back home. The duo fails creatively, and Lotto goes back home none the wiser about what happened between them; however, his sense of creativity is restored when he realizes that great art doesn’t have rules or boundaries like other things do.
Lotto continues to be successful, pleasing a finicky critic. Mathilde is not able to give Lotto children, so Chollie tries to sabotage the couple by revealing that Mathilde had an affair with Ariel.
However, before Lotto and Mathilde can reconcile, Lotto dies of an aneurysm. Mathilde is overcome with loneliness and grief once more. She finds solace in one-night stands and seeks revenge on Chollie (Lotto’s brother).
One day, a handsome young man arrives at Mathilde’s house in the middle of her grief. They end up sleeping together and he is the only person she enjoys since Lotto died. The boy is similar to Lotto because they are actually father and son from when Lotto was a teenager living on the beach in Florida. After doing some research and finding out that this boy is his son, Mathilde starts to heal emotionally. She learns how to forgive herself for what happened with Lotto all those years ago. She spends her twilight years enjoying Parisian food as well as quiet time sipping tea at home in England after retiring from work.