Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Read With Us: Matrix

I'm here today to remind you of our current Read With Us book, The Matrix by Lauren Groffand let you know just a little about it and why you might want to read it. 

I'll admit to some confusion about the title, but it began to make sense after I read this interview with Lauren Groff: 

"It’s funny because even my husband can’t say “Matrix.” He has to say “The Matrix.” I foresaw that this was going to happen, but I thought I could just brush it under the rug. “Matrix” comes from the Latin for “mother,” and it’s used in so many disciplines. In geology it’s the bedrock on which gems are found. In sculpture it is the original format from which other sculptures are made. It’s this incredible word that does so many things. It talks about what we’ve lost without knowing it. It talks about the organizational structure of the abbey. It talks about what it means to be an unwilling mother to other women. So it’s the only word the title could have been, despite the films."

Groff was attending a lecture on medieval nuns’ liturgical notes by historian and scholar Dr. Katie Bugyis when her "brain exploded into rainbows."

“I thought, oh my God, this is the next book,” said Groff, who raced to the front of the room when Bugyis finished. Over coffee not long after, the author peppered the historian with questions and took copious notes. Other conversations followed. Then, last summer, Groff asked Bugyis to be a historical consultant for “Matrix,” the story of Marie, a young woman exiled from the French court by Eleanor of Aquitaine and sent to a remote abbey to live out her days, but who instead revolutionizes the convent with the help of some divine inspiration."

So now you know how the author arrived at the title, and a little bit about the main character. Marie de France is almost perfect for a work of fiction; she was a real person but almost nothing is known about her beyond the poetry she wrote. She was the first female poet who wrote in French that we know of, but it is supposition that she was a bastard daughter of nobility and an abbess. Lauren Groff tells a story of a woman who challenged the Catholic church and patriarchy, and also wonders what it means to be a nun and a woman at the same time. She may have arrived at the abbey as a young and inexperienced 17-year-old, but grows into a formidable and powerful woman. 

Matrix has been named as a finalist for the National Book Awards, which is one reason you might want to read the book. The winner will be announced on November 17th. But this quote from Lauren Groff gave me a better reason for reading: "Matrix came out of Katie’s talk. This was also in the middle of the Trump presidency, and I was exhausted. I just wanted to live in a female utopia, not worrying about men at all. And how else could you do that but go back to a nunnery, back in the days of Benedictine enclosures, where you’re just surrounded by women?"

I do hope you'll Read With Us, surrounded by women. 


Kym and Carole will both be doing promotional posts over the next couple of weeks, and you can put January 11 on your calendar for our discussion of Matrix, on our blogs and on Zoom. We'd love to see you there, again surrounded by women!


  1. I'm on the list at the library...#58 of 107, so I should be able to get it in plenty of time! Sounds so good.

  2. Still on the wait list at the library, but the book hasn't even come in yet. I don't know if I will get it in time, but think good thoughts!

  3. My library app says it should be ready for me "soon"; I'm almost ready to return my current library book, and I'm wondering if returning it will trigger that hold to magically release to me. Looking forward to it!

  4. I am moving up on the list! This post has really increased my interest to read this book, Bonny! Thank you!

    (At times, I too would like to be transported to a place where there are only women. And I am quite sure that no Trumpy women would be inclined to head to a nunnery... so it just might be the perfect place! lol)

  5. I'll admit that I didn't love it as much as I hoped I would but this post makes me understand it better and that makes me like it more in hindsight.

  6. There is a lot to discuss about this one and I look forward to it!

    1. I wholeheartedly agree! I've only read about 2/3 of the book, but I'm not sure how much I would like this book without our discussion. I'm also looking forward to it.

  7. Thank you for the information. I am intrigued by this book. A world run by women - what we could accomplish!

  8. It's certainly . . . an interesting book! I always love learning the "backstory" of the books we choose, and usually find I appreciate the book even more when I hear what inspired the author. (I'll admit to having ups-and-downs while reading the book -- it's kind of an odd one -- but I do think it's one that will simmer with discussion!) Thanks for this intriguing look at MATRIX, Bonny.


Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment! :-)