Cover Image: Matrix

Matrix

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Member Reviews

This book is extremely well written. The level of detail it goes into about a medieval abbey is admirable. Placing a strong female character in this time period is creates a very interesting story and adds a different perspective. This would be a good book for a book club in a library because there would be a lot to talk about.
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I am sorry for the inconvenience but I don’t have the time to read this anymore and have lost interest in the concept. I believe that it would benefit your book more if I did not skim your book and write a rushed review. Again, I am sorry for the inconvenience.
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One of the best books of 2021! Groff does a great job of creating a rather larger than life character who powers her way through life in an unexpected way.
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Truthfully, more stories should consider the theme of faith in a time of extreme crisis, personal or communal (isn't it always communal?). Matrix delivers in a enthralling, maddening, and deeply original book about the inclusion of the irrational and the wild. Remarkable too is the personal story of empowerment despite a treacherous world against women. Although the familiarity of this time is close to our own present, there's lots of imagination and answers to help us go forward.
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Beautifully written historical fiction. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. The level of detail and insight into the time period is astounding. I adored the character development of the women in the Abbey.
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England, 1158, and young ‘Marie who comes from France’ rides through a cold, damp valley towards the royal abbey where she has been appointed prioress at Queen Eleanor’s behest. She feels no religious calling, only anger and yearning for what she has left behind; the abbey is rundown and impoverished, the nuns malnourished, and the coughing sickness has taken many lives. From this unpromising beginning, we follow Marie’s life as she moves from resentment to determination to protect those entrusted to her care. A capable administrator, she becomes abbess in her turn and skilled at fending off avaricious churchmen, tempted by her abbey’s growing wealth. Though she experiences strange visions, her religious views remain unconventional, even heretical. Like those of many mystics, actually.

Marie de France wrote in French during the late 12th century. What little is known of her life is drawn from scanty references and inferences drawn from her poetry. This allows Groff the freedom to construct her own story, but her choices are plausible, the picture of abbey life convincing: even Marie’s opposition to the patriarchal structure of church and society finds support in her writings. Groff’s Marie is a reformer, unwilling to submit to a system that oppresses her ‘daughters’, but astute enough to learn which strategies work best. These are dangerous times for open defiance, as the Albigensian Crusade demonstrated. There were other more immediate dangers too, and Groff provides many examples of how accidents, infections, and diseases cripple and kill, especially those weakened by hunger and harsh conditions.

This is an involving and stylistically impressive story: the writing style is skilful, characterization and setting vivid, dialogue entertaining; and Marie’s success at helping so many while struggling with her own personal challenges marks her as a true hero. Highly recommended.

HNR Issue 98 (November 2021)
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I'm a big fan of Groff's novels and short fiction, and this book did not disappoint. 

17-year old Marie, the bastard child of a noblewoman, is disinherited and send to England by Eleanor of Aquitaine after the death of her mother. She is an outsized character -- both physically and in spirit. Eleanor has sent her to be the new prioress of an abbey that is at on the verge of collapse. Through the force of her own will, Marie brings the abbey back from ruin and becomes very powerful, as she continues to try to rebuild her relationship with Eleanor. A fascinating read. 

The prose was beautiful, though I was happy to have read on a kindle because there was a lot of unfamiliar words due the to the time period of the novel and the religious setting. One certainly could determine the meaning through context clues, but it was great to have the ability to press on words for a definition. 

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Net Galley.
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I'm super late leaving this review but I wanted to balance out all the two and three star ratings because MATRIX is my favorite of Lauren Groff's books to date! Admittedly I'm kind of the ideal audience for it, but it was one of the best books I've read in the past year, and also I have fun telling patrons that Marie de France was known for writing a werewolf story as part of my recommendation.
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Novel inspired by Marie de France. Matrix is a story of a woman history knows little of. Marie de France is brought to life. This novel is full of interesting characters intertwined carefully.
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Marie de France is sent to a 12th century abbey to be the proprietress amongst the nuns. While being surrounded by so many powerful and unique women, Marie begins having prophetic visions. I was picturing this to be the adult version of the historical fiction I read in my youth, but no... it's much more intense than that, and much more sexual. I wasn't sure of the "point" of the book, unfortunately. One of the only throughlines is Marie and her relationship to the queen, while the plot meanders over the course of Marie's life, jumping into her senior years about halfway into the book. At under 300 pages, it seems longer. It is written in third person and has very little dialogue which made me feel very removed from the plot, especially in addition to it being set hundreds of years in the past. It's not going to be the book for everyone, and it certainly wasn't for me, but I can understand the high praise it is receiving.
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This was such an interesting story about religion and its limitations on gender, specifically women. A truly unique story!
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Thank you, NetGalley, for an e-ARC of Matrix by Lauren Groff. I was excited to read this book due to the description and the early reviews. However, I was disappointed. I found the story to be tedious, and dull with little plot.
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Unfortunately, this book was not for me. I enjoyed the setting and themes, but found the pacing of the book to be too slow. If you like intense literary fiction, I think you’d love this book.
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Every once in a while, a book completely transports you. I was immediately caught up in this world.  Would highly recommend.
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Couldn’t get into for now and have popped aside / perhaps more of a reflection of when I picked this up than the book itself (so please disregard my star rating here )
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I feel somewhat the outlier here - while the narrative is beautifully written, I wasn't drawn into Marie de France's story as much as I wanted to be.  Parts of her ambition and domineering nature left me missing some personal connections for her with the others (and there are so many other characters).  She's portrayed as very masculine in her appearance which feeds into stereotypical "male" character traits that seemed overdone.  I really wanted to love this.
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I’m fairly certain that my desire to read Matrix, Lauren Groff’s new novel, was primarily motivated by FOMO — I felt like I was the only person I know who hadn’t read and loved Fates and Furies. So, thanks to Penguin Group Riverhead and NetGalley, I was ready to go with a copy in exchange for this honest review. 

While I studied British history in college, that was back in the day (to say the least), and I was initially challenged by my lack of understanding and awareness of the situation in twelfth century England and France, and who exactly Eleanor of Aquitaine and Marie de France were… turns out that despite my laziness that prevented me from refreshing my memory that Eleanor had been Queen of France when married to Louis VII and Queen of England when she later married Henry II, and Marie was the first female poet of France. Despite my ignorance, I decided to just jump in and see if I could figure out the story without much background knowledge. 

Turned out I followed it fine, I just didn’t care enough. I did feel for Marie when, at the age of seventeen, she was sent from France to England to be the prioress of a wretched abbey. It was not an environment she desired, as “…the religion she was raised in had always seemed vaguely foolish to her.” She faced it bravely: early on, she “… has yet to cry for having been thrown to the dogs.” Marie was a large, not particularly attractive woman, a fact which was constantly pointed out to her. Talk about mean girls, both at court and at the abbey!! Marie settles in to a life with a group of starving, sick women, and lives among them as she leads and protects them for many years. She has desires and divine visions, and lives a life that is full — although not with the family and homeland she desired. (Sad!)

The novel is described as “...a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.” TBH, the writing is often lovely, and Marie is a tower of strength, but I just didn’t care enough. I am unclear whether I might have enjoyed it more if I had retained more of the history I studied back in the day, but in any case, it was a struggle for me to get through it. I know several people who will LOVE this book, and I will recommend it without hesitation. It’s just not my thing. Three stars.
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The writing is so good! I absolutely love Lauren Groff's style, and I would probably read absolutely anything she wrote. 
This novel was absolutely fascinating, and I found myself completely absorbed in the story.
One of my favorites I have read lately!
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This is a wonderful book, unlike Groff's earlier work but very much her own, a sprawling historical novel written sparsely and in so fewer pages than most historic epics, and really does wonders of helping the reader empathize and under a woman of the protagonist's time, complicating her and providing a riveting, heartbreaking, and often heartwarming story that is compelling and delicious, as much as it can be frightening and compulsively readable, all in equal measures.  Such a great book!
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This book is great! Would definitely recommend. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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