“The Lacuna” … Kingsolver at her best.
One of my favorite books is “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver. I read it about 10 years ago and was enthralled. Since then I’ve looked forward to other fiction by her and, although she’s been productive in this genre none of them have really held my attention.
Now she’s come up with another winner in my opinion. It’s a very ambitious novel. The main character is Harrison Shepherd, born in the United States, the son of divorced parents (an American father living in Washington, DC and a self-absorbed Mexican mother who relies on her lovers to provide for them.)
The novel begins and ends in a jungle island in Mexico. It is here that he comes as a young boy with his mother and her lover. It is in the 1920’s and, although he never receives a formal education he is self taught and becomes a prolific writer, journaling daily about everything that he encounters.
He and his mother escape the clutches of that lover and begin a new life in Mexico City. There is little security and life becomes whatever he can do to make a living. This leads him to running errands, becoming a cook and finally mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Of course this leads to meeting Frida Kahlo, the equally famous artist and wife of Diego.
She will become a lifelong friend and is a pivotal character in the novel. It is at this time also that he meets Lev Trotsky, the exiled Russian political leader who comes to stay in the Rivera household.
Everything falls apart with the murder of Trotsky and the story takes a distinct change when Harrison returns to the United States and ends up, surprisingly, in Asheville, North Carolina. It is the late 40’s by now and the fear of Communism is rearing it’s ugly head. He finds a kindred soul in an older woman, Mrs. Brown, who becomes his stenographer, his friend and eventually his historian.
I’ll leave it to you to see how Ms. Kingsolver brings this amazing work of fiction to a conclusion; but, I can assure you that it is fascinating. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.