Category Archives: Hutchinson Heinemann

Read 222 of 2021. Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Title: Bewilderment
Author: Richard Powers
Publisher: Hutchinson Heinemann
ISBN: 9781785152641
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 280
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

A novel about the environment, the climate change crisis, but more than anything a novel about a father and his relationship with his neurodivergent son, as the world tumbles and continues to spin.

Bewilderment is fascinating, it is revelatory, it shows what we have done to ourselves as a race, and how perhaps there still might be hope for all of us, if only we are willing to see and make those changes.

Both father and son, Theo and Robin are mourning the death of Alys, the wife and the mother, an environmental activist more than anything else.

The book is about the predicament of the world, of how leaders and people with power are oblivious to the change in climate and its consequences thereof. It is about mass extinction, about the generation that has been forced to grow up in such circumstances, and whether or not there is a future for them.

Bewilderment also speaks of life on distant planets and does it very intelligently. The expanse of the novel is huge, as it was in The Overstory, though at times the book does seem disjointed in places. I let it go because of the writing. Powers is a writer that is so capable of looking at America inside-out and then to place it in the larger scheme of things, which this novel does most fantastically.

The writing paints a picture of where we are today, where we perhaps could be, and what we have done so far. A book so rooted in loss clearly needs hope which Powers speaks about eloquently and with a lot of grace. The book broke me in places, even devastated me with its grief – loss that is personal and a loss that concerns the entire humankind. Most certainly, this book is in the running for the Booker this year. It is on my top 2 list for sure.

Read 212 of 2021. Matrix by Lauren Groff

Matrix by Lauren Groff

Title: Matrix
Author: Lauren Groff
Publisher: Hutchison Heinemann
ISBN: 978-1785151910
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I am not a fan of historical fiction at all. I mean sure I have liked some books over the years, but I do not dig the genre per se. So, I was initially quite hesitant to read Matrix. A book set in the 12th century wasn’t for me. Till I read a couple of reviews, and was intrigued by the plot as I read more and more. After finishing the book, it is now safe to say that I am a fan of the way Groff has written this piece of work. Of how even a book set in the 12th century could feel so relevant and timely.

Matrix is a novel that is not only bold (well, in a sense and more), but also displays great sensitivity when needed, is driven by characters that are unique and yet relatable, and more than anything it is a novel that isn’t preachy at all, given how easily it could have taken that road.

Like I said, the book is set in the 12th century and is about Marie – a poet, a free-thinker, someone who yearns for the love of her queen, and it is that very queen – Eleanor of Aquitaine who has her ejected from court, sent to be prioress at a remote royal abbey in England. From thereon, everything begins.

Matrix is a reimagining of Marie de France, no holds barred. Groff speaks less of her lais but when she does it is with great affection and joy. At the same time, her love for her long-time help Cecily and Queen Eleanor is devoted. I think those parts moved me the most. I could sense the longing Groff transfers to Marie, the yearning with which each thought is processed by the prioress – and how ultimately in all of this, she makes the abbey her home and is determined to resurrect its rundown status.

It took me about two chapters to get into the book, but when I did, I was hooked. Marie’s mother’s side of the family had me wanting to know more about them. The crusaders, the tales, the passing down of stories connected to a large extent with me. I loved the routine of the abbey. In fact, I found myself looking forward to those descriptions that Groff brings to fore with so much talent and nuance. I can only imagine the kind of research that must have happened in the writing of Matrix.

What I also enjoyed a lot was the absence of male characters, or when they appeared they took a back seat. The writing focuses on the women and rightly so. The sisterhood that is built from scratch had me cheering for them at the turn of every page. Every decision that Marie makes isn’t perfect. Groff lays out the flaws of characters that somehow makes them more endearing to the reader. Marie’s visions are beautifully explained through the prose. A feat if you ask me.

Matrix is a book about women who do not find a place anywhere in the world and how they come to live together in the abbey. The way Groff works with history – more to reimagine it is a splendid task. I loved how Marie offers herself to the Queen without any expectation (well, there is some at some points), bares her soul, and how she refuses to be trapped anywhere under any circumstances. It is all about things happening on her terms, which bring out the true warrior woman element.

Matrix is a medieval romance, it is political novel, it is a story of friendship, of sisterhoods even in disagreement, of a queer abbey, and of a spirit that is grand and not afraid to show it. You have to read Matrix to appreciate and feel the joy.