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. Her size and history often become a barrier, thereby making her an object of spectacle.

She is sent away, against her will, from courtly drama and queen Eleanor to live in an abbey. After her arrival at the convent, she imagines life as bleak as the atmosphere that surrounds it. She soon becomes a Prioress, against the wishes of other nuns, and begins her journey.

Each day she anticipates summons from Eleanor and wishes 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 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 mostly seen as docile messengers of God. Under Groff’s story-telling and (fictional) Mary’s leadership, these nuns become self-efficient by learning various trades. Although Mary’s decisions are faced with opposition, she pushes them to equip for extremities and harness their talent.

I loved how Groff gracefully dissects nuns’ bodily pleasures in the 12th century, which is blasphemous within the sacred walls. Matrix celebrates feminity, womanhood and the true power women can yield if we put aside our differences.

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