An elaborately woven novel of intrigue about one of America's most curious and enduring legends -- the enigma of the Lady in Blue
In Los Angeles, Jennifer Narody has been having a series of disturbing dreams involving eerie images of a lady dressed in blue. What she doesn't know is that this same spirit appeared to leaders of the Jumano Native American tribe in New Mexico 362 years earlier, and was linked to a Spanish nun capable of powers of "bilocation," or the ability to be in two places simultaneously. Meanwhile, young journalist Carlos Albert is driven by a blinding snowstorm to the little Spanish town of Ágreda, where he stumbles upon a nearly forgotten seventeenth-century convent founded by this same legendary woman. Intrigued by her rumored powers, he delves into finding out more. These threads, linked by an apparent suicide, eventually lead Carlos to Cardinal Baldi, to an American spy, and ultimately to Los Angeles, where Jennifer Narody unwittingly holds the key to the mystery that the Catholic Church, the U.S. Defense Department, and the journalist are each determined to decipher -- the Lady in Blue.
Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. Javier Sierra takes us through his novel via four main locations as well as two different time frames. How did the 1630s' story line in New Mexico enhance your understanding of the 1990s' plot lines and threads? At what point did the stories fuse to help you decipher the religious conspiracy theory? Did the plot twists and turns take the path you anticipated? How? 2. Father Corso's death was deemed suicide due to "high anxiety." Do you think that Father Baldi trusted this information, or did he have doubts about the validity of this interpretation and his personal safety as well? Why do you think Corso erased his hard drive in his last minutes on earth? Did he sense the end was near? 3. Cardinal Zsidiv introduced Father Baldi to Chronovision, and they had a long-standing friendship/business relationship spanning approximately forty years. Although Zsidiv was team leader and project coordinator of the four saints, did Sierra lead you to believe he might not be trustworthy, especially in light of his sudden disappearance when the statue of St. Veronica exploded? How did his existence and the existence of the Chronovision experiment impact the story? 4. Several apparitions of the Lady in Blue warn the Jumanos of the arrival of the conquistadors. Why is it that so many Jumanos were able to see her and decipher her message? How did her appearances further the spread of Christianity in that region? What did you know about the Jumanos and their conversion to Christianity before reading this novel? 5. The Franciscan friars in New Mexico are baffled by the ready conversion of the Native Americans to Christianity. They first believed that the Lady in Blue was our Lady of Guadalupe (the Holy Mother). At what point did you comprehend the author's theory that she was actually a bilocating Spanish nun? Discuss why this theory does or does not ring true to you. Why do you think the legend is well known in the Southwest but not in Europe? 6. Dr. Linda Meyers tries to explain Jennifer Narody's dreams with a number of scientific theories like Stendhal Syndrome, a brain tumor, somnimnesia, and Dostoyevsky's epilepsy. Why do you think she tried so hard to label the problem and find a treatment instead of helping her patient decipher her dreams and work through what they mean? At what point did you figure out that Jennifer Narody herself had been bilocating? 7. When the Memorial of Fray Alonso deBenavides manuscript is stolen from Madrid's National Library, did you think it was a coincidence that Dr. Meyers had just called the library director, or did you think she was somehow tied to the disappearance? Why did she feel it was her place to call? Were you wondering at all if she was the mysterious woman with the red shoes? 8. Did you find reporter Carlos Albert's obsession with the truth unsettling or provocative? Why do you think Mysteries was willing to foot the international bill to unveil the story of the missing ancient document? What made each interviewee trust Albert so? And, were you surprised to read in the post scriptum that this character is loosely based on the author? Why or why not? 9. Why did Father Tejada spend so many years on the beatification of Sister Maria Jesus de Ágreda? When did you figure out that he was one of the four saints? How? Did you believe Tejada's story of how the Spanish nun's mystical powers were discovered and how she bilocated more than five hundred times? Is there any other explanation? And, why would her story (and the stories of others like her) be left out of almost every history textbook? 10. Early in the novel, Carlos Albert finds a chain with a pendant in Madrid. Later we find out the image matches the St. Veronica sculpture that some people (possibly terrorists) attempt to blow up. What did you think the significance of the pendant was going to be? Discuss the significance of the imprint of Veronica found on the Holy Shroud of Turin as well as the cloak worn by the Indian Juan Diego in 1531 -- neither made by human hand (page 307). 11. When Baldi is kidnapped, did you fear for his safety? Were you surprised to find out who kidnapped him and why? 12. Now that Corso is gone, the angels' hope lies in Carlos Albert. Once he interviews Jennifer Narody, reads Benavides's Memorial, and pulls all the information together, Albert realizes all the connections and synchronicities, and trusts even more in the Programmer. How do you think the story would continue after the ending Sierra provides? Would Albert share his discovery in the pages of Mysteries or in some other way? Or would the theory be silenced by the Pope or others? If so, why? Tips to Enhance Your Book Group Use food to set the mood! For example, make the theme of your session "blue." Serve blue corn chips and salsa, blueberries, and blue margaritas. Or look at sites like www.vivanewmexico.com, www.initaly.com, or www.gospain.org, for ideas on authentic fare of the different regions in the novel. Have some of your members do some extra research before the meeting on topics such as the Jumanos of New Mexico, the Roman sculpture of St. Veronica, or Robert Monroe (e.g. on www.wikipedia.com). Maybe even bring photos to help your members visualize what you're describing. Play the Hallelujah Mass choral music that helped María Jesús de Ágreda bilocate as your members enter or play some music central to the areas Sierra includes in his novel to help set the scene.
Javier Sierra, whose works have been translated into forty languages, is the author of The Lost Angel, The Lady in Blue, and the New York Times bestselling novel The Secret Supper. One of the most accomplished authors on the Spanish literary scene, Sierra studied journalism at the Complutense University of Madrid. El Maestro del Prado spent a year on the bestseller list in Spain, gaining the admiration of art experts, aficionados, and critics. A native of Teruel, Spain, he currently lives in Madrid with his wife and two children.
"The Lady in Blue is the haunting and evocative tale of the triumph of modern spirit and science over a 400-year-old conspiracy. Javier Sierra's groundbreaking historical research opens our eyes to a world we thought we knew, and revisits, in a surprising way, the devastating clash between Catholic Europe and the far more ancient world of the American Southwest." -- Katherine Neville, bestselling author of The Eight and The Magic Circle
"This fantastic story imparts an alternative, expanded view that we do not usually find in our academic, politically motivated history books. This is what Javier Sierra brings to us in his most recent novel, The Lady in Blue. Read this book before it's made into a screenplay. You will be happy you did." -- Skip Atwater, president and executive director of the Monroe Institute, an organization dedicated to working with audio sound patterns in the exploration of human consciousness
"Javier Sierra has done it again! His last book, The Secret Supper, left readers wanting more and Javier has given them just what they have been waiting for with The Lady in Blue! Each chapter keeps you completely captivated and at times makes you look over your shoulder looking for the spirit of the Spanish nun. I'm completely in love with this book and it's a must read!" -- MaryRose Occhino, author of Sign of the Dove and radio show host of "Angels on Call," on Sirius Stars 102