by Barbara Kingsolver
c2009, Reprint Paperback July 2010
From Harper Perennial
In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities. Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence. Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption. (Harper Perennial http://www.harpercollins.com/books/The-Lacuna-Barbara-Kingsolver?isbn=9780060852573&HCHP=TB_The+Lacuna)
Barbara Kingsolver is not a new author to me. After enjoying her novels Prodigal Summer and The Bean Trees, I was pleased to be a part of the TLC Blog Tour that would promote her large depth of work. The Lacuna was on my TBR list since it was first published and I was so thrilled that I would have this book to read for the tour.
This book may not be for everyone, but my mind has been on rewind since I finished the book last night. I honestly should wait another day to write this review, as my thoughts have become intrusive projectiles to ponder as time passes. I loved this book. I will caution, the beginning felt random and disjointed leaving me wondering where it was all going. Fear not, your reward for perseverance will be the treat of Kingsolver’s unique storytelling. Her writing is so much richer and deeper than the surface story and knowing this I wanted the story to follow in a linear path. It really doesn’t flow that way. It is an intense novel that will make you think. From Mexico to North Carolina and Washington, DC, historical fact and historical fiction come together in a harmonious blend to teach and entertain.
Lev Trotsky, exiled in Mexico lives life with the constant threat of death from Stalin’s assassins. His days are often spent with his friend, the larger than life muralist Diego Rivera. One of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo adds a spicy splash of color whenever her tempestuous personality appears. I have always been a fan of the Riveras, but reading about their political activism and relationship with Trotsky gave me new perspective.
Historiographically, with 21st century eyes, the frenetic anti-communist movement that defined the 1930‘s to 1950‘s in the United States adds another negative surrealistic view of our past. It makes me wonder how future generations will view our cultural and political global community.
Kingsolver’s contemplative story lifts the haze that allows us to think our country is perfect. “What an extraordinary state of things, we are the finished product.” (p. 466) So, are we a finished entity? Written and published at a time when fear and despair erode the spirit of the country, this alluring and stimulating read will doubtless leave you with cause for reflection.© [Wisteria Leigh]
Barbara Kingsolver's Website
Barbara Kingsolver’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS
Tuesday, September 7th: Literate Housewife (The Poisonwood Bible)
Wednesday, September 8th: Lit and Life (The Lacuna)
Thursday, September 9th: Bibliofreak (The Bean Trees)
Monday, September 13th: Presenting Lenore (The Lacuna)
Tuesday, September 14th: Fyrefly’s Book Blog (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)
Wednesday, September 15th: Eleanor’s Trousers (The Bean Trees)
Friday, September 17th: My Two Blessings (The Poisonwood Bible)
Monday, September 20th: Til We Read Again (The Lacuna)
Thursday, September 23rd: Rundpinne (The Bean Trees)
Tuesday, September 28th: Raging Bibliomania (The Lacuna)
Tuesday, September 28th: The Lost Entwife (The Lacuna)
Wednesday, September 29th: Steph and Tony Investigate (The Poisonwood Bible)
Thursday, September 30th: Wordsmithonia (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)
Friday, October 1st: In the Next Room (The Lacuna)
Monday, October 4th: Caribousmom (Prodigal Summer)
Tuesday, October 5th: Bookworm’s Dinner (The Lacuna)
Thursday, October 7th: she reads and reads (The Lacuna)
Monday, October 11th: Book Chatter (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)
Wednesday, October 13th: Jenn’s Bookshelves (Prodigal Summer)
Disclosure:Thank you to TLC Blog Tours for the copy of The Lacuna.