Set in Spain and Mexico during the 1930s, Matadora tells the story of Luna Caballero Garcia, an impoverished and intrepid servant attempting to make her name in the bullring at a time when it was illegal for a girl to do so. Matadora carries readers from bohemian artistic circles in Mexico City and Andalusia to Norman Bethune's mobile blood transfusions on the Madrid front.
Against a backdrop of rising fascism and the Spanish Civil War, Elizabeth Ruth has created a powerful and compelling exploration of love, art, and politics, and an intelligent mirror for our times.
Boldly sensual, with a cast of unforgettable characters and a plot that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, Matadora is easily one of the most original books of the year.
“This is a novel to be savoured, one that, like the author’s previous books explores identity through love and art.”
“The writing is vivid and exciting, like the bullring itself, and Luna is a heroine to be reckoned with … Elizabeth Ruth does a masterful job in creating an engaging story that is ripe with historical accuracy and strung with passion.”
“The writing is excellent — descriptions poetically detailed. I was transported in time to a place where dust tickled my throat and my breath quickened at the snorting of bulls in their pens.”
“The scenes in the bullring are technically precise and vividly portrayed … The erotic scenes, which include queer trysts of both male and female varieties, are earthy and rich…. Ruth [keeps] several key developments under wraps until finally springing them on the reader. This includes the novel’s bravura ending, which is quite simply stunning.”
“It is impossible to imagine Luna’s character without the context of bullfighting, but she deals with loss both in and out of the ring, and the questions she battles are human questions … Elizabeth Ruth’s Matadora connects readers with Luna’s torments and triumphs just as good books should.”
“Ambition, death, longing, and grief offer a powerful emotional through-line … while paradox, ambiguity, and ambivalence draw us into a richly engaging plot … Powerful and thought-provoking, Matadora may be worth not just one, but multiple, reads.”
“Readers, like those tens of thousands that used to fill bullfighting arenas from South America to the Iberian Peninsula, will find themselves absolutely unable to look away. This searing, sensual novel is an adventure not to be missed.”
“Luna must be counted among the most vital and alluring of Canada’s literary heroines. She simply enthralls. Manuel too is represented with searing verisimilitude. I could say as much about the book’s many secondary voices. In addition, Ruth exhibits a tremendous gift for creating the group dynamic. She not only animates one voice at a time she can uncannily inhabit several personalities at once.”
“Writing in clear, colourful prose, Ruth has a firm grip on the story of her passionate pioneer.”
“With intelligence as well as passion, Matadora asks what it would have taken for a Spanish woman in the 1930s to walk into the bullring, staking her life on that peculiar ritual. Elizabeth Ruth’s novel, testing the limits of commitment (artistic, literary, political and erotic) in the midst of bloodshed, is as magnetic and powerfully uncompromising as its heroine.”