Likely Stories : Matrix, by Lauren Groff

Nov 25, 2021

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Lauren Groff is a two-time National Book Award finalist and the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Fates and Furies and Florida.  Her latest novel is Matrix.  This terrific novel demonstrates the raw power of female creativity in a corrupt world.


Lauren begins, “She rides out of the forest alone.  Seventeen years old, in the cold March drizzle, Marie who comes from France. // It is Eleven-Fifty-Eight and the world bears the weariness of the late Lent.  Soon will be Easter, which arrives early this year.  In the fields, the seeds uncurl in the dark cold soil, ready to punch into the free air.  She sees for the first time the abbey, pale and aloof on a rise in this damp valley, the clouds drawn up from the ocean and wrung against the hills in constant rainfall” (3).  Marie is an outcast from the queen, who wants to confine her to a wretched abbey.

I will now insert a few windows into Marie’s life.  “When Marie’s mouth could move, she said thickly, that she was grateful to the queen for the radiance of her attention, but oh no she could not be a nun, she was unworthy, and besides she had no godly vocation whatsoever in any way at all” (5).

Another “And it was true, the religion that she was raised in had always seemed vaguely foolish to her, if rich with mystery and ceremony, for why should babies be born into sin, why should she pray to invisible forces, why would god be a trinity, why should she, who felt her greatness hot in her blood” (5). 

A Third As a very young woman, she learned from the feet of Eleanor of Aquitaine.  “Marie knew how to run a large estate, she could write in four languages, she could keep account books, she did all this so admirably after her mother died, even though still a tender little maiden, and what’s more she did it so well that she fooled the whole world into thinking for two years that she was her own dead mother” (6). 

And Finally, “Marie descends the night stairs.  She feels as though she has stepped from a blazing day into a dark room.  She sees nothing around her but ghost fragments of the brightness of what she has lost. // Wevua shoves Marie down on the bench and sits beside her. [   ] Marie steals a look at this girl who has bulging eyes and protuberant front teeth; Both will become Marie’s deep friends.” (23).

Matrix, by Lauren Groff, is a story displaying the power of women in a world dominated by men.  Marie is an exception in the medieval world she came to dominate.  10 Stars!  This is an amazing and I hope you like it.

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!