A Novel

hardcover, 272 pages

Published Sept. 7, 2021 by Riverhead Books.


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4 stars (4 reviews)

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, …

4 editions

reviewed Matrix by Lauren Groff

La vie imaginée de Marie de France

No rating

On ne sait quasiment rien de la vie de Marie de France, première poétesse de langue francaise à la fin du 12e siècle. Aussi Lauren Groff lui a inventé une biographie. Mise de force dans une abbaye anglaise miséreuse par Alienor d'aquitaine, Marie va vite prendre en main le développement du lieu, le sortir de la pauvreté et en faire un refuge pour les femmes, bloquant tout accès à l'abbaye pour les hommes, jusqu'à devenir une menace pour l'ordre en pratiquant des tâches normalement interdites aux hommes.

Derrière ce récit d'une vie illuminée (Marie se sert de visions divines dont on ne sait si elle y croit pour imposer le développement de l'abbaye) l'autrice invente une communauté de femmes utilisant la religion pour se protéger et développer une véritable sororité entre elles, abrités derrière une sorte de Brienne de Torth ayant rejoint les ordres. Sous sa nature forte et inflexible, …

Sadly usual anachronical vision of the middle-ages

2 stars

Very well written with a vocabulary that does make you feel you're somewhere around 1160. But the premises of the novel are not very believable. For instance the hero, a 16 years old teenager doesn't believe in God. Don't forget that not only was the church back then very powerful and very present in everyday life (mass every day, many saints birth and death days were celebrated every week) but also science was obviously still in infancy which means that people back then didn't have obvious explanations for many aspects of life such as illnesses and natural events such as floods, forest fires, etc. Believing in God then was easy and not believing was not very likely. Add to that the fact the this young lady transforms an abbey from starting to super rich with nuns fighting and winning against villagers and you realize that this doesn't make for a …

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