Reading Questions for The Lady Matador's Hotel
2. Political unrest is a driving force in the novel. Do any of the characters go unaffected by the turmoil that surrounds them? If so, which? Discuss why you think the author chose to set the novel in an unnamed country, but still a clearly volatile time and place.
3. Each chapter of the book ends with "The News," timely news clippings from various media outlets in the country. How do these sections add to the events taking place in the novel?
4. Consider the ex-guerrilla's encounters with her deceased brother. How did you interpret these scenes? Do you think she actually meets with her brother's ghost?
5. Similarly, the juxtaposition of life versus death is potent in the novel; while one character contemplates committing suicide, another contemplates what makes her feel the most alive. What moral or message do you take about life and death from the novel?
6. "Nobody talks of the past, for fear their wounds might reopen. Privately, though, their wounds never heal." Which characters do you think are most affected by the events of their past, and which look instead toward the future? Consider the character you feel is most focused on the past; do you think this person learns from his or her past, or is trapped by it? Why?
7. How do you think Suki is affected by her near-fatal injury in the bullfighting ring?
8. What do you make of Gertrudis Stuber and her involvement with what she privately refers to as her "export" business? How did her actions throughout the novel make you feel?
9. On the other end of Gertrudis' export business are the adoptive parents—in this case, Ricardo and Sarah Moran. Discuss how receiving baby Isabel changes their relationship. Ricardo is particularly touched by the arrival of a baby into his life; do you agree with his decision to run away with his daughter in the end?
10. Won Kim has done some things in his life that he is not proud of. Do you find Won Kim to be a sympathetic character? Also, what do you make of his fascination with butterflies? What do you think this fascination adds to his character?
11. "My dearest colonel, Soon you will be mine..." Aura extracts her revenge in the final chapter of the novel by taking the colonel's life. Do you think he deserved to die the way he did? Also, discuss the final words of the chapter: "The last word in history...must be fought for again and again." With the colonel's death, do you think Aura can be finished fighting her demons?
12. Consider all of the female characters in this book, and discuss their goals and motivations. Do you find any they all share? How are these goals and motivations impacted by society's view of them?
13. Most of Cristina García's previously published works have alternated between a first-person and a close third-person perspective. Why do you think she broke from this pattern and chose an omniscient narrator for The Lady Matador's Hotel? How would the story have been changed if it were told from a first-person perspective?
14. In a 2007 interview with BOMB Magazine, Cristina García commented on the complexity of her characters: "If a character could just as soon kill you as kiss you," she says, "that's interesting." How do you think this quote applies to The Lady Matador's Hotel?
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