Book Review: Matrix by Lauren Groff

What women can do when given a task! Their abilities seem limitless.

Lauren Groff

Mary De France is larger than any woman of the 12th century. She often becomes an object of spectacle due to her size and history. 

Marie is sent to live in an abbey, against her will, away from courtly drama and Queen Eleanor. After her arrival at the convent, she imagines life as bleak as the atmosphere that surrounds it. In spite of the wishes of other nuns, she soon becomes a Prioress and begins her journey. Although Marie’s decisions are met with opposition, she encourages them to equip themselves for extreme conditions and harness their talents.

Simultaneously, Marie also anticipates Eleanor’s summons every day and longs to be taken away from this misery. But, after a long period of waiting and grieving, Marie has to accept these nuns as her sisters and the abbey as her new home.

Fine then, she thinks with bitterness. She will stay in this wretched place and make the best of the life given her. She will do all that she can do to exalt herself on this worldly plane. She will make those who cast her out sorry for what they’ve done. One day they will see the majesty she holds within herself and feel awe.’

With acceptance, she creates a plan to transform this holy place using her intellect and linguistic gifts.

Lauren Groff’s writing is poetic, subtly witty and superlative. She gives a voice to nuns who are usually seen as docile messengers of God. Through Groff’s story-telling and Marie’s (fictional) leadership, these nuns learn various trades and become self-sufficient. The story traces the early beginning of capitalism through our complex protagonist. 

Groff gracefully dissects nuns’ bodily pleasures in the 12th century, which is blasphemous inside the walls of a holy institution. The Matrix celebrates feminity, womanhood, and the power women can yield if they are willing to put their differences aside.

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