Cover Image: Matrix

Matrix

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Member Reviews

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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This was just as brilliant as all of her other books, and I was truly obsessed—even if you think it’s not the type of book you typically read, I think it’s worth checking out
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Lauren Groff’s latest novel, Matrix, focuses on Marie de France, a poet who lived in the 12th century and may have originated the lais – a type of medieval tale told in the form of verse.  Beyond her writings, little is known although she has been rumored to be of royal birth and perhaps to have been a nun.  Groff incorporates both theories in her tale which centers around Marie’s success in turning a small, starving group of nuns into a large, successful religious enterprise.  Marie strives to create a safe haven and even a type of utopia for women in a harsh and violent world.  Her character is described as a virago  who almost becomes a super-heroine of sorts by accomplishing fantastic feats based upon her religious visions, and shear strength of will.  An interesting peek into the life of the convent during the European Middle Ages as well as life for women during that period generally.  I enjoyed the book tremendously - while suspending disbelief as required with the understanding that faith and belief may have measured on a different scale once upon a time…though, perhaps not.  An interesting and thought-provoking read.

A free copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I have read Lauren Groff's books and enjoyed them. However, Matrix stunned me. It is a page turner with so much to teach the reader. People will enjoy learning about history, nuns, living conditions, and humanity. I know this will be a huge hit with book groups.
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I really wanted to like this book, set in the medieval era with a little known authoress who defied the conventions of her time as the main character, what could be better? A little more action, a bit more of showing not telling. Though beautifully written--the language is exquisite--we are much in Marie de France's head. Despite this, major decisions are left unexplained and major undertakings are covered in a page or two. An event like a 17-year-old newly minted prioress almost single handedly driving non-paying tenants off church lands should have been commiserate with this character having a bit of a thought process and perhaps a little planning and enlisting of support. Instead, the reader is just told that Marie did this. Ok, how? This dissonance is characteristic of the book. While there is some fascinating back story about Marie's young life and motivations, she is a difficult character to relate to because interior and exterior events don't consistently correlate and are not given equal attention, a lost opportunity for a potentially heroic character.

Full Disclosure--NetGalley and the publisher provided me with a digital ARC of this book. This is my honest review.
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An interesting story. Reminds me of the Follett cathedral series. I can see why this is very popular now. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
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It truly pains me to set this book down, for in theory it ticks all of my boxes. Groff’s extensive research and advanced vocabulary in this book are truly impressive, but the staccato writing style leaves no space for the reader to empathize with Marie’s condition.
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We included Matrix in our Publishing This Week newsletter sent to 35,000 with an open rate of 31%.
https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Publishing-This-Week--New-Novels-from-Sally-Rooney--Lauren-Groff--Colm-Toibin-and-Many-More.html?soid=1102200958905&aid=K9Im94cDVw0

It was also included in the Publishing This Week section on BookBrowse and in our notable books publishing next month lineup (which is also sent to subscribing librarians), and in our Publishing This Week feature on Facebook.

In addition, we published a review and "beyond the book" article which was featured on BookBrowse for a week. Details on this were sent to publicity at the time. Links below

Review:
https://www.bookbrowse.com/mag/reviews/index.cfm/ref/tb276864/matrix#reviews

Beyond the Book:
https://www.bookbrowse.com/mag/btb/index.cfm/ref/tb276864/matrix#btb
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I loved this gorgeously written novel, based VERY loosely on the life of Marie de France, a medieval poet from the 12th century. In Groff’s story, she draws on some historians’ theories about Marie, including her illegitimate links to The Plantagenets, and how Marie, and the English Abbess Mary of Shaftesbury could be one in the same. Groff focuses on Marie with a feminist eye, banished from court to a poverty stricken nunnery, and her life as a feisty Abbess as she leads these women to prosper. I always love this author, but I wasn’t expecting so much of her wry humor in this one, and it was a lovely surprise. Fun, feminist and lush, these bite size chunks of this woman’s life, had me gripped.
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When Matrix is read, the reader takes a trip back to the 1200s, the good, the bad, and a lot of ugly.  Even Marie finding herself at the abbey is not a pretty story--shunted off because she was a product of rape and not a beautiful child.  The book has no real plot--it has ups and downs, the good that Marie does at the abbey for her nuns and the downs--pregnant nuns, inopportune deaths, and a flood that took livestock and one nun.  But most of all it just a story of a life--maybe not a planned one, but a life of those times and of a woman that rose to the challenge.
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What a fantastic read ! Marie is forced into a nunnery by her beloved Eleanor of Aquitaine. At first despondent, she then decides to make the abbey successful. Marie is a visionary and poet. Groff’s writing is beautiful and lyrical. The only part of this book which did not work for me was the cover- I hope they change it for the paperback edition as it gives no hint at what the book is about. A medieval scene would draw more readers.
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What was it like to be a nun during medieval times?  Lauren Groff explores this question in her new book Matrix.  Intermingled among the details of what life in a poor, isolated abbey was like is the development of an amazing character.  At 17, Marie is exiled as prioress to this cold, damp impoverished abbey by her half sister , Queen Eleanor.  Ungainly, larger than most men strong -willed Marie learns to reconcile her life to her situation.  She takes the nuns in hand and becomes a force to be reckoned with in the surrounding countryside.  This is an amazing book, mingling strong characters, with a well developed plot that also tackles issues of the environment and feminism.
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From the get go the writing is gorgeous. It was hard to put down and a fascinating story. highly recommend to historical fiction lovers!
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