Matadora by Elizabeth Ruth

I was hoping that I would enjoy this book—and I did.  It was well written and I liked the topic of a woman trying to find her calling in a sport that is traditionally and primarily dominated by men.  It is especially tested when said female insists on taking a stand during times of civil unrest and war.

MatadoraThe novel opens with twelve-year old Luna, living on a bull ranch in Spain, where she is an orphan but decides she will change her fate by becoming a female matador.  Essentially, the story just covers about five years of her life (from 1932 to 1937) but it takes place during a dangerous time.  The Garcias, who own the farm, see her passion for bullfighting and also her potential.  They take pains to train her and she ends up in Mexico, where she is able to finally prove herself.

Although her skill and fame earn her the name El Corazon, her desire to face a bull on foot is what she truly wants to attain, back home.  As it is against the law for a woman to fight on foot, she struggles to answer questions that begin to gnaw at her—making her doubt her deepest wishes.  She even starts to realize that she is attracted to women and hides her feelings of lust toward a Canadian redhead, named Grace.

Luna eventually finds out who her real father is (her mother died giving birth) and she does go back to Spain, defending her career against political groups of people (Grace being one of them) who think that bullfighting is cruelty to animals and that she is a murderer.

The book ends during a bittersweet moment and ultimately, it is quite sad and dreary but it still makes for a very good story and brings a lot of subjects to the surface.  There is even a glossary of bullfighting terms at the back of the novel, so you can understand the important words that revolve around a bullfighter’s life.

Only four titles played in my head when I read this novel.  Some were really just trivial things—for instance, in Proof of Heaven by Mary Curan Hackett, faith in God and then questioning God is very strong in both stories.  Luna’s relationship to animals (her connection to them) brought back scenes from Jan Philipp-Sendkar’s, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.  In The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard, we see the love affair between two women being just as passionate as any heterosexual relationship, which is similar to Luna and Grace’s coupling.  Finally, with Timeri Murari’s The Taliban Cricket Club, we see again how a woman in a suppressed society must go against all odds to take part in a sport that is not considered feminine in her culture.

What did you think about Ruth’s tale?  Would you have preferred for it to end differently?  Wait till you read next month’s review!  Charlotte Rogan’s The Lifeboat is a gripping and eerie novel, which will have you anticipating the worst.  See you then!

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