Book Clubs

Is your book club reading The Ladies of Managua (or Other Waters or North of Ithaka)? Schedule permitting, Eleni would be happy to join the discussion through phone conference or Skype, or even in person if you’re in the New York area or a neighborhood she may be visiting–she’s often in Miami and central Massachusetts, and you may want to check the speaking engagements she has scheduled on her talks page to see if she’ll be lurking in a city near you. To set up a virtual visit, fill out the contact form below.

To arrange readings or speaking engagements or inquire about her availability to teach a class, contact Eleni directly at

If you’re looking for some discussion questions, try these:

  • The very first line of the book is Mariana informing the reader of her grandmother’s opinion that “Revolutionaries make bad husbands.” What does Isabela mean? Why does she feel this way?
  • Why do you think the author chose to begin each of the first three chapters with the alternating narrators repeating the same sentence?
  • Each woman is concealing a secret from the others. What are these and why does each character feel she can’t share hers with her family?
  • The question of what it means to be a good parent (and/or a good daughter) preoccupies each of the narrators of The Ladies of Managua. Do you think they have judged each other fairly? Has Isabela been a good mother and grandmother? Has Ninexin? Is Mariana a good daughter and do you think she has what it takes to be a good mother?
  • Mariana often suggests that her relationship with Allen has parallels to her relationship with Ninexin. Do you agree? If so, how are the two bonds similar? Different?
  • In many ways, the Valanzuela/Vazquez women have been unlucky in love. Is Mariana breaking this pattern or continuing it? Is Allen a good choice for her? And does he fit Isabela’s definition of a “revolutionary”?
  • The revolution in Nicaragua forever changed the course of each of these women’s lives (and the history of the country). At the same time, each character undergoes a personal revolution throughout the course of the book. How does each character revolutionize her life?
  • Ninexin feels responsible for Manuel’s death. Is she?
  • Why do you think Mariana and Isabela are so close, and what role do you think the generation gap plays in parent-child and grandparent-grandchild relationships?
  • “I carry all those other selves inside me,” says Isabela, reflecting on the girl, young woman, and mother she used to be. How has Isabela changed to accommodate the shifting world around her? How has she resisted change?
  • The novel begins on an airplane and ends in New Orleans, a city in which none of the protagonists live. Why do you think the author chose these settings?
  • To what extent is Nicaragua itself a character in the novel? How does each woman’s relationship with the country impact her life and her choices?

For Book Clubs: To arrange an author’s visit by phone, Skype, or in person (schedule permitting), please fill out the form below: