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Matrix – Lauren Groff

Matrix – Lauren Groff

I read and enjoyed Fates and Furies, so grabbed this one when I saw it in Dymocks. It’s completely different from Fates and Furies.

Here’s the blurb …

Lauren Groff returns with her exhilarating first new novel since the groundbreaking Fates and Furies.

Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, 17-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease.

At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough?

Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.

I enjoyed this novel – I do like female-centred historical fiction. Marie is a formidable character, full of energy, drive, passion and very cunning. It is beautifully written.

A review from the Guardian

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Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff

I was standing in the line to buy my copy of Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters at the Writers Festival when I saw this one – the cover is quite eye catching, which had been recommended by a friend. I, of course, bought this one as well (in large format even though I am trying to buy novels digitally to save a bit of space).

Here’s the blurb …

Fates and Furies is a dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation.

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.

I had no pre-conceived notions when I started reading this novel – knew nothing about it or its author at all. It was fabulous. It tells the story of a (seemingly) happy marriage from two different perspectives – first the husband and then the wife. The difference is astounding and quite shocking: the husband’s version is happy, almost boastful and then, in the wife’s version, we read terrible of secrets and betrayals.

The characters are beautifully written – Lotto, Mathilde, Antoinette (the former mermaid who finds religion and food), Chollie (Lotto’s unattractive friend and hanger-on). The writing is magnificent – for example, a bus letting of passengers ‘knelt the passengers off like a carnival elephant’.

I liked both the plot and writing of this novel – it was surprising and clever (and certainly not predictable, which seems to be the case with most novels these days).

More reviews …




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