18 The Cloisters Book Club Questions For Discussion

Are you ready to delve into the mysterious world of tarot cards, toxic friendships, and power games?

Well, buckle up, because we’re taking a journey through the pages of “The Cloisters” by Katy Hays.

In this gothic tale, we follow Ann Stilwell as she enters the world of The Cloisters museum, filled with enigmatic researchers and their secrets, far hidden from the eyes of the general public. The museum’s curator, Patrick Roland, believes that the history of Tarot can unlock the secrets of fortune-telling, and Ann is all too happy to indulge his theories.

However, when Ann discovers a lost deck of 15th-century Italian tarot cards, she becomes the center of a dangerous game of power, ambition and revenge.

Will she be able to shape her own future, or will the cards have the final say?

In this discussion guide, we will have a look at some amazing book club questions for The Cloisters and try to understand how Katy Hays weaves together an amazing tale of obsession, friendship, and ruthless pursuit of power in the pursuit of something extraordinary.

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the cloisters book club questions for discussion

The Cloisters Book Club Questions For Discussion

  1. How does the novel explore the theme of grief, and in what ways does Ann’s experience of loss shape her character and actions throughout the story?

  2. The use of tarot cards as a central element of the plot raises questions about fate, free will, and the limits of human understanding. How does the novel engage with these philosophical concepts?

  3. In what ways does the character of Ann Stilwel challenge and reinforce stereotypes about the outsider protagonist in mystery and thriller novels, particularly as a young woman with a love of ancient languages?

  4. How does the portrayal of friendship between Ann and Rachel in The Cloisters reflect the complexities and ambiguities of real-life relationships, particularly in the context of power dynamics and social hierarchies?

  5. To what extent does The Cloisters engage with the history and symbolism of tarot cards, and what does this reveal about the role of esoteric knowledge and belief in contemporary society?

  6. How does the novel use the structure and conventions of the mystery genre to explore deeper questions about fate, mortality, and the human condition?

  7. Patrick, the head curator at The Cloisters, is searching for the earliest tarot decks and their links between the Medieval and Renaissance periods. What do you think this quest represents, and what deeper meanings might be associated with the symbolism of the tarot cards?

  8. The Cloisters is a novel that deals with the intersection of academic rigor and the search for true magic. How do these two worlds collide in the book, and what does this collision reveal about the nature of knowledge and belief?
    The Cloisters is a novel that deals with the intersection of academic rigor and the search for true magic. How do these two worlds collide in the book, and what does this collision reveal about the nature of knowledge and belief?

  9. Leo is a gardener who tends to a magical copse of deadly plants in the center of The Cloisters. What does this garden represent in the novel, and what do the plants themselves symbolize?

  10. What do you believe prompted Ann to withhold some of Lingraf’s writings from Rachel and conceal the fake-fronted card from Patrick? How might this tale have taken a different course had she imparted this knowledge to her team members?

  11. In the book, Ann finds herself drawn into a closed system of academia that is obsessed with the occult. What do you think the novel is trying to say about the nature of academic institutions and the dangers of becoming too invested in a particular area of study?

  12. The Cloisters is described as a “magical” museum with a history that “seeps from the walls”. What do you think this suggests about the relationship between art, history, and the occult, and how do these themes intersect in the novel?

  13. Discuss the role of grief and trauma in the novel, particularly in relation to Ann’s journey and her interactions with other characters.

  14. If the book was adapted into a movie or a television series, how would you envision the setting and visuals? How might this change the dynamics of the story, and what other elements would you include to bring Ann’s journey to life onscreen?

  15. Katy Hays uses different storylines in the book, which eventually amalgamate in the end. Do you like this multi-storyline approach or you prefer a more linear one? Why?

  16. In the prologue, Ann laments about the warnings she failed to recognize at The Cloisters that summer. Looking back now with a better understanding of what happened in the novel, how does this warning foreshadow the significance of luck? What omens were present that we can now interpret and analyze?

  17. Through a variety of mischievous acts, Rachel’s true character is revealed. From stealing cookies to pranking Moira and playing with the tiles in the garden, all these ‘games’ hint at her darker side that eventually leads her down an uncertain path. These seemingly harmless incidents ultimately foreshadow what dangerous choices she will make over time. What is it about Rachel that allows her to indulge in these activities and what could this reveal about her character?

  18. Did you like the way the novel ended? I mean, if Katy Hays was present at this book club meet, what questions would you like to pose in front of her when it comes to, particularly the way this book ended?

If you liked these questions, here are a few other options for you to explore. 

Surviving Savannah: When artifacts from the long-lost steamship Pulaski resurface, historian Everly Winthrop dives into the captivating tale of two remarkable women from Savannah’s past. Uncovering their haunting choices, this is a poignant exploration of survival, fate, and the enduring spirit of women amidst the face of tragedy.

Surviving Savannah Book Club Questions

To Kill a Mockingbird: Experience this timeless masterpiece as it uncovers the essence of humanity through innocence and cruelty, love and hatred, and the power of compassion. Harper Lee’s simple love story has transformed into an American literary treasure, captivating hearts worldwide.

To Kill a Mockingbird Book Club Questions

The Exiles: A captivating historical novel set in 19th-century London and Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). It follows Evangeline, a governess turned prisoner, her friendship with Hazel, a resourceful midwife, and Mathinna, an orphaned Aboriginal girl, as they navigate hardships, forge bonds, and seek freedom in a harsh new land.

The Exiles Book Club Questions

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