Saturday, November 13, 2010

“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.

8 Comments:

Anonymous AC said...

I also really like Kingsolver, but I like other of her novels better than Poisonwood Bible but names are escaping me right now. Lacuna didn't grab me, and I couldn't be bothered to plod on. Strange, eh? One person's poison is another's bible. So to speak.

3:55 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

It sounds like a winner, Ginnie!

4:21 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

I had the same problem with the start of the book as AC did ... but then a friend whose comments I value told me to go on and it got to where I couldn't put it down.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

I've heard of Kingsolver but not read her. The young man's life sounds fascinating! Love Di ♥

12:37 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

I confess to not having read any of Kingsolver's novels, but Grenville is a fan of her writing style. He recently finished The Bean Tree.

6:00 PM  
Blogger possum said...

I get to read so little fiction... I buy them and then they sit in a pile waiting for that day when it is too cold to go outside and work - or too hot - and I have caught up with the housework (like never) and I have NO OTHER JOBS to attend to. 'Fer' example, I had 58 emails since last night 7 PM, a paper due in the morning and I go for part 3 of a root canal today.
BUT, if I see the book, I will add it to my list and remember to plod on.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I find the lives of Frida and Diego fascinating especially with their relationship with Trotsky.
A novel that is weaved into their lives could hold my interest.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Thanks Ginnie. When I get through the other 6 books that I am working on, I will give it a try. Life is so busy of late. When did I have time to work?

4:42 AM  

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