Dear Great Book Guru, We were at the Metropolitan Bistro last Friday for the Coalition To Save Hempstead Harbor’s annual Pub Crawl. What fun it was seeing so many friends enjoying the evening! While we were there, someone mentioned a new novel set in medieval times about a revolutionary, semi-historical woman who was a remarkable force for good. Any thoughts? Enthusiastic Coalition Supporter
Dear Enthusiastic Coalition Supporter, Yes, indeed! MATRIX by Lauren Groff is a National Book prize finalist and was on Barak Obama’s top ten book list of 2021. Set in 12th century France and England, this short novel (272 pages) tells the story of Marie de France – half-sister to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Little is known of the life of this mystic/poet so Groff is free to embellish… and embellish she does. Very tall and physically unattractive, Marie is deemed unmarriageable and assigned by Eleanor to an abbey where she is to become a nun and eventually its prioress. When she arrives at the convent, she finds a handful of impoverished, starving nuns who have been left to live in squalor. After a short time lamenting her fate, she begins a campaign to enrich the lives of these women in her care. Her talents are extraordinary and soon the abbey is a bustling, thriving place where men are banned. There is a strong feminist message throughout the novel as we watch this young woman grow in strength and reputation. By the book’s conclusion, Marie has lived a long life – “not of goodness but of greatness.” A powerful story and recommended!