by Lauren Groff

5 stars

25124103The story of a marriage told in two halves. Lotto, the husband’s tale comes first; his perspective covers the first half of the story. Then Mathilde, the wife, takes over in the second part – which is when it gets really interesting. Lotto’s story is a smooth, enjoyable read; you think you know exactly what’s happening then Lauren Groff twists it all about and turns it on its head with Mathilde’s story, her side of the tale. From the moment the narrative switches voices, everything changes; everything becomes suddenly warped, complex, ambivalent. For all his early tragedy and artistic bent, Lotto is a straightforward, uncomplicated character – certainly when set beside Mathilde, who keeps herself so contained; there’s no hint of the person she truly is in the telling of his life. From the moment she began to speak, like turning on the light, everything suddenly looks different. Every page turned reveals some new piece of information, a shift in perception that changes everything that came before.

This is masterly story telling. It’s not the most immediately engaging story – it’s not the sort of thing I would regularly pick up to read – and is rather too long, but I’m glad I stepped out of my regular reading box and gave it a go; it completely repaid the time it demands.