Dive into The Queen of the Valley by Lorena Hughes with this discussion guide!

  1. The Queen of the Valley features three protagonists: a Palestinian-Colombian nun named Camila; Lucas, a photographer; and Puri, a French-Spanish chocolatier disguised as a nun. Each is connected to Martin Sabater, the missing hacienda owner, in a different way. In which ways do you think Martin most affected the lives of Camila, Lucas, and Puri? Where do you think they would be if he hadn’t gone back to Colombia?
  2. One of the story’s main characters is Puri, a young chocolatier and mother who goes undercover as a nun in search of her son’s missing father. Throughout this journey, Puri learns to exploit expectations of virtue to carefully navigate a patriarchal society’s rules around women. What do you think Puri discovers about herself after the experience of posing as a nun?
  3. The 1920s saw the mainstreaming of photography both as an artform and in journalism, a detail explored through the character of Lucas. Armed with his Kodak Folding Autographic Brownie, Lucas hides behind the camera’s lens as he works to uncover secrets about his past. What is your take on Lucas’s relationship with his father, who himself owned a photography studio? How does photography play a part in their estrangement? Do you think Lucas was a true artist?
  4. Palestinian-Colombian nun Camila wanted to be a dress-maker when she was a young woman. But, later in life, she found a vocation for helping and healing others. What do you make of this change of heart? Did you have a dream or vocation as a child or young adult that changed as you grew
    up? What was it and why didn’t you follow through with it?
  5. Camila was Martin’s first love and vice versa. Do you believe theirs was true love or mainly the experience of falling in love for the first time? Do you believe that everyone remembers their first love? Can you share a little bit about yours?
  6. The story touches on Dr. Farid “El Turco” Mansur’s arranged marriage to Amira as well as his parents’ before they immigrated to Colombia from Palestine. Do you have any ancestors who had arranged marriages? Do you think those marriages worked any better than those who marry for love? Do you know of any cultures that continue this tradition?
  7. Do you believe Martin knew Puri’s son was his? How might he have figured this out?
  8. Do you think Lucas’s resentment toward Doña Matilde was justified? Why or why not? Do you know of anyone who found out the truth about their origins as an adult? Is it a forgivable deceit?
  9. Puri’s sister Angélica was committed to a mental institution for “going into hysterics.” Lucas mentions to her a variety of reasons as to why women could be committed in the past. Have you heard of cases like these in real life?
  10. In your estimation, who or what was the Queen of the Valley? Please explain your answer.