Matrix: A Novel

Cover of Matrix: A Novel

This week’s book is Lauren Groff’s Matrix, her sixth novel. Groff is a gifted writer, so I feel bad saying I never really warmed up to this book, even though unlike some readers I loved the premise: historical, strong women, nunnery etc.

Strengths include tackling subject matter that most writers avoid, including imagining a [probably not very accurate] life for a historical person, in a way that it has not been previously imagined. Strong women who create a cloistered world that largely keeps problems, aside from hunger, at the edge of their domain.

Admittedly, the narrative style kept me at arm’s length. I also wasn’t sure about hanging this imagining of the main character’s life on the name of a historical woman; it could have been, in my opinion, just as powerful to use a created name alongside a statement that the story was inspired by the historical poetess and nun. My own limitation: I don’t like creating so many fictional events and sticking them under a real person’s name, even when that person is long dead and particularly when the events don’t always jibe with what is known about the historical person.

Lauren Groff

Despite not appreciating all of Groff’s choices in this particular work, I think she is a gifted writer who will continue to produce noteworthy work. I look forward to seeing what is next from her pen.