A Separation -Readers’ Guide

A Separation“Kitamura’s prose gallops, combining Elena Ferrante-style intricacies with the tensions of a top-notch whodunit.” —Elle

“Kitamura is a writer with a visionary, visual imagination.” —The New Yorker

This is her story. About the end of her marriage. About what happened when Christopher went missing and she went to find him. These are her secrets; this is what happened…

A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it’s time for them to separate. For the moment it’s a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, she gets word that Christopher has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece; she reluctantly agrees to go look for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she’s not even sure if she wants to find him. As her search comes to a shocking breaking point, she discovers she understands less than she thought she did about her relationship and the man she used to love.

A searing, suspenseful story of intimacy and infidelity, A Separation lays bare what divides us from the inner lives of others. With exquisitely cool precision, Katie Kitamura propels us into the experience of a woman on edge, with a fiercely mesmerizing story to tell.” (Amazon summary).


Chapter 1

  • What emotions and thoughts would come to Isabella about her son’s marital separation?
  • How are shyness and reservation misinterpreted as snobbish?
  • How do in-laws often feel like outlaw?
  • What impressions are made by the reader of Christopher?
  • What symbolism, if any, exist between the black Athens hills and their marriage?
  • How does an individual always run away from something rather than toward something?

Chapter 2

  • How can hotels provide peace?
  • What power lies in rituals?
  • How does the honeymoon couple contrast the narrator?
  • How does the translator career mirror her personality?
  • How does her imagination cover take reality?
  • In what ways do we act like the lady at the front desk, desiring something we do not understand?
  • How does Maria’ hope of a new relationship contrast the wife’s end of one?

Chapter 3

  • Why would Christopher prefer to talk about “his research” to actual working?
  • What fortitude does non-fiction writing require?
  • How does Yvan’s avoidance of self compare to Christopher’s attention to self? Whey?
  • How did Christopher lack discipline?
  • How do lives start simple, grow complicated and back to simple?
  • How does discord require space?
  • At what point does the heart obey reason?

Chapter 4

  • Why did Kostas hesitate about seeing the church?
  • What could lead someone to defacing a church?
  • Why would the Nazis remove the faces of the saints?
  • What peace could mourner or wailers provide?
  • How do personalities change in different situations?
  • How is mourning an art?
  • What did Maria’s crying prove to Christopher’s wife?

Chapter 5

  • How can interactions with strangers lift one’s spirits?
  • How can one patronize without being aware?
  • How does non-verbal language give understanding to foreign words?

Chapter 6

  • What could be the conversation between a mistress and a wife?
  • How does the dinner fare of each diner compare to their characters?
  • What is the audacity of a child?
  • What character strength, if any, would it have taken for Maria to ask questions about Christopher to his wife?
  • Would an older woman have had the same audacity to approach the wife?

Chapter 7

  • How would the description of the body be dismaying for Kostas to translate? Why?
  • What motivated her to not tell Christopher’s mother? Was it selfish or not?
  • How did the practicalities of the arrangements shade the truth?
  • How do we create expectations for unimaginable situations?
  • How is death an invasion of privacy?

Chapter 8

  • How are computers private?
  • How did Isabella’s hatred of the wife mutate?
  • What emotions consumed the wife to recognize Isabella knew of the straying?
  • Why did she analyze the ad in the London Review?

Chapter 9

  • Why does she continue to imagine possibilities despite Christopher’s death?
  • How is doubt impossible to dispel?
  • What distracted her from asking about the investigation?
  • Why would Mark and Isabella stay together?

Chapter 10

  • How do memories and experiences taint our impressions of people, places and things?
  • What protection does a man offer a woman?
  • What plausibility would there be to Stefano killing Christopher?
  • Does a law exist which successfully regulates human behavior?

Chapter 11

  • How did Christopher regain his identity?
  • DO foundations and charities ease grief? Why? Why not?
  • What made her request a different driver?

Chapter 12

  • How did Mark talking to the driver assist in his grief process?
  • Why did they need to see the place where Christopher had been killed?
  • How do new couples want to improve upon their parents’ marriage?

Chapter 13

  • What confusion meets the reader at the beginning of this chapter?
  • Why would the theory of the missing living together on a remote island persist?
  • How would the wife feel about the benefits she was to receive?
  • Why would Stefano contact the wife?
  • Does any comfort come from imagining the possibilities of Christopher’s demise? Would the grief be different for a wife or a ‘separated’ wife?
  • What would the difference be if Christopher had lived?
  • Why doesn’t the author give a name to the wife?


By Tracy Atkinson

Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including The Art of Learning Journals, Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the mid-west with her husband. She loved storytelling and sharing her stories with her children. As they grew, she started writing her stories down for them. She is a teacher, having taught from elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, masters in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. Her husband, Kerry and Tracy breed miniature dachshunds and love to spend time with their growing family. She has published several books including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel's 8 and Securing Your Tent.

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