September, 2016: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

(Book #77) Linda hosted Fates and Furies. She started us out with great wine choices and delicious tapenade. For dinner she served chicken with yogurt sauce, a salad of arugula and pecorino and a carrot and lentil medley. Dessert included both a spice cake and creme brulee, two of my favorite things. Because of the tragedy of last month the girls were extra sweet to me and celebrated my birthday with cards, presents and the afore-mentioned two favorite desserts.

The discussion of the book was a bit critical. We agreed that the writing had some fine moments but some parts were pretentious and over-written. At one point she references two things in an analogy and I had to look one of them up to appreciate the reference. And remember how I complained about smells in What She Left Behind?

Her mother had smelled of cold and scales, her father of stone dust and dog. She imagined her husband’s mother, whom she had never met, had a whiff of rotting apples, although her stationery had stunk of baby powder and rose perfume. Sallie was starch, cedar. Her dead grandmother, sandalwood. Her uncle, Swiss cheese. People told her she smiled like garlic, like chalk, like nothing at all. Lotto, clean as camphor at his neck and belly, like electrified pennies at the armpit, like chlorine at the groin. Yikes!

But the Fates and Furies division of the book was also problematic because there are aspects of Furies that seem to jar against what has already been read — making you feel as though you should read Fates again now that you know what you know. 
Two more things. There are two glances with homosexual relationships that don’t seem a part of the story or of support to the characters involved.
Just a personal problem here — I’m always so saddened when “love at first sight” seems based so completely on physical appearance (even if that appearance isn’t considered stunningly beautiful by all who see her.} How can you decide to spend your life with someone without knowing something about the inside? Obviously, Lotto imbues Mathilde (if I can call you Mathilde) with something good and important inside — qualities that were of his own creation.

Below is the purple-prosed thank you note to Linda:

Dear Linda,

(Pretend you find this note in a bowl of fruit or vegetables but you don’t open it for at least two weeks when the contents of the bowl are rotting — or maybe not ever — maybe you just piece together what I have to say.) Thank you so much for a lovely evening — for hosting us in the deepest room of your heart — especially when you had only just returned from your short visit to Thailand.

The wines were great, the tapenade enduring and the chicken was delicious with and without the yogurt sauce. The combination of the arugula and pecorino was like that of sound and fury, wind and water, time and tide. The carrot and lentil salad filled me with wondrous happiness. The good spirit was somewhat broken when Susan tripped(?) Sharon on the stairs and Sharon fell three flights to the front door screaming “Diable” until she fell silent … acciaccato. 

And I wish Lynn hadn’t chosen this night to tell us she would be disowning her son due to his impending marriage to a roller derby queen. But even that was not as bad as when Rosalie tried to count on her fingers how many strands of DNA her daughters could have is there is any truth to the telegony theory and we all prayed silently that there was never any sushi involved. It was lovely when everyone gave me cards and gifts and Chris made that wonderful spice cake for me and Geri bruleed the creme. But even those blissful moments were ruined when I sat brooding that there was far too much powdered sugar in the cakes’ frosting and that the crack on the white sugared brulee was nothing short of pitiful and all I could feel was Dread … deep-shale dread. I think they both noticed something in my face.   And Mary said nothing, eloquently.

But those were things you couldn’t control, Linda. You are a pathologically perfect hostess, but you aren’t God or any other rearrangement of the letters in God like dog. You can only mirror your fellow book club — it’s not your fault that we are fatally flawed. We agreed to do better in the future when Chris hosts on October 25.