A Bit Sluggish
An Entirely Different Kind of Making

Read With Us: Let's Talk About It

Read With Us Fall

Welcome to Read With Us book discussion day!

Bonny and Carole and I are each posting a different question (or questions) on our blogs today about our latest RWU book . . . Matrix by Lauren Groff. Join the discussion (which you're welcome do even if you didn't read the book).  I'll be answering your posts within the comment section for this discussion -- and you can comment on other people's comments, as well. Y'know . . . like in a real book group. (Please know . . . that because of the limitations of Typepad, I can't "layer" or "stack" the comments in my comment feed. Sorry. Bear with me.)

Let's begin. . . 

Matrix

First . . . I'd really like to know what you thought of the book. How did it make you feel? Did you like it? Do you think it deserved to be one of the National Book Award finalists last year?

Next . . . At the beginning of the novel, Marie is angry and up for a fight. But toward the end of her life she says, "open your hands and let your life go. It has never been yours to do with what you will." How does Marie evolve as a person throughout the book?

Last . . . How would you describe Matrix to a friend looking for a book recommendation?

I can't wait to hear what you think

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Don't forget: We'll be discussing the book on Zoom tonight - 7:00 pm Eastern Time. There's still time for you to join us! Just let me know of your interest either with a comment or by sending me an email (see sidebar, above) -- and I'll send a Zoom invitation. 

PS - If you are planning to join us on the Zoom, but haven't received an invitation from me (I sent them yesterday), please let me know so I can re-send the invitation to you today.

 

Comments

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kat

Ahhh, excellent and tricky questions Kym!

I will do my best to answer them... briefly! LOL

1. A resounding yes! It absolutely deserved to be a finalist! The writing is so very good and (though I am not a 12th Century history scholar) it seemed very accurate to the times. I very much felt "taken away" with the writing. I could feel the damp cold walls... and as you mentioned on Carole's blog... that hot flash bit. Yep! So spot on!

2. This is where I struggled with the book as I do not like how Marie evolved over the course of the book. (Although I think at the end, she sees the error of her ways... Absolute power corrupts absolutely)

3. This is how I would describe it: It is the story of change (and not always for the better) with heavy religious influence and while those things might put you off... this is a fascinating book to read. The writing is evocative and will absolutely pull you in!

Bonny

I already appreciate the book more after reading Kat's comments!

1. I didn't like this book very much as a whole, but I did appreciate Groff's language and prose. I also liked her idea to base a book on a historical figure that very little was known about and understood why she would want to write a feminist utopia during the Trump years.

2. I understood Marie's anger at the beginning because she was banished from all the knew and loved, and sent to a place where the nuns were starving and dying. I took the what she said at the end as something she may have learned through old age and wisdom. I know when I was younger that I thought I had complete control over my life and what happened. Having children changed that viewpoint, and as I age, I'm coming to understand just how little control I have.

3. I would recommend this book as a feminist utopia and what can go wrong.

Vera

I will say that I did not enjoy the book at all. Sure, the writing is good/great...but the whole story to me was such a slog. I'm surprised that I finished it! I'm hoping to gain an appreciation for this book during the Zoom discussion tonight!!

kim in oregon

I kept waiting for the book to get more -- I don't know what--more of a story? The writing was beautiful but what exactly was the story?

There seem to be two themes that kind of wove in and out---the relationship between Marie and Eleanor (which I kept thinking was going to come to something, but it kind of just fizzled?) and the relationship between the holy and secular worlds. I found the parts about the labyrinth really interesting--do we create our own labyrinths to protect ourselves? The labyrinth storyline had a big moment in the middle of the novel, and then that kind of fizzled out as well.

Sarah

I did enjoy the book, but I can clearly see how it would not appeal to many readers. I found it to be so unusual and inventive, and it was clear to me that Groff had really done some thorough research and that it paid off. I thought her writing was really spectacular.

I think perhaps what happened to Marie over the course of the book is that she gradually became a willing occupant of the abbey. She was forced to join the order initially and looked at her life there as a way to get out of it. But I think over time she realized that she could make a life there, and a meaningful one at that.

How to describe this is the hardest question! I'm still working on the answer to that.

Caffeine Girl

I hope to be able to join in on the next book! Looks like so much fun.

Suzanne

1) I did find the book a slog. I don't really go by book awards. Strangely, I sometimes find that book club recommendations in the past (Oprah's or Reece's) end up being books that I really am not fond of. I don't know if I'm just contrary but I don't get the influencer stsuff either, I'm not doing/buying stuff just because someone I really don't know (but follow online) is saying it's great. I research on my own and read reviews but also take them with a grain of salt.

2) I think she was just so upset and felt betrayed at the beginning for being sent away. I think she came into her own as a leader and then it just got the best of her.

3) I'm not sure how I would describe it. Just today, someone I follow on Instagram read the book and loved it. I guess there is a book for every person. Sometimes I also think it's the wrong book at the wrong time.

Chloe

Interesting discussion. Enough to make me want to page through it briefly if I come across it at the library to see about the beautiful prose, but otherwise not drawn in. I read so much fiction so intensely in my youth that I feel saturated and now I want to read mostly non-fiction - unless it is light, humorous, or the odd mystery. But I love hearing all the intelligent, thoughtful comments - stimulating in themselves - and thank you, Kym, for prying open my ageing mind just a bit. I’m perfectly happy where I am but it’s always good to open a few windows every now and then, even if it’s just a few inches.

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