Skip to main content

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

I was browsing at the library last week, before I broke my ankle, and saw this book. I picked it up because I adore Kingsolver - have ever since I read The Poisonwood Bible way back when (I think that I was in high school).

The Lacuna is Kingsolver's first novel in nine years!!!  I couldn't believe that it had been nine years since her last novel. Kingsolver's main character is Harrison Shepherd, a young man that has a Mexican mother and American father - as such, he's got dual citizenship with the States and Mexico. In 1929, when Harrison is 12, his mother takes him to live with her in Mexico, because she has fallen in with a wealthy Mexican landowner. Harrison is there, somewhat aimlessly and passively (which seems to be his theme throughout the whole book), and while there, swims and learns to cook from the staff. When he meets Frida Kahlo at the market, he opts to go home with her, where he becomes employed initially in the kitchen and then as a plaster worker for Diego Rivera, her muralist husband. Lev Trotsky eventually moves into the household and Harrison becomes his personal secretary. During that time, he bears witness to the work that Trotsky does as well as his assassination by one of Stalin's agents. After moving back to the States, Harrison becomes a hugely successful writer, creating works of fiction mostly about Mexico's history and some of which provide political commentary. He also is targeted by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee because of his interactions with the revolutionaries in Mexico. From the time that he lived in Mexico, he kept a journal/diary of sorts, which is what most of the novel is based upon and excerpts from.

I really enjoyed this novel. Where some reviewers were turned off by the ordinariness (what some others called the absolute apathy) of the main character, I was actually very much attracted to it.  The perspective of the average Joe to the historical events portrayed in this novel was very refreshing to me - I mean, we always hear how the major players felt (by their own paintings, journals or letters) but never how the average person really felt about the major events that were occurring. The characters were wonderfully and beautifully drawn and I really enjoyed reading about them and wondering what would happen to them.  The prose was, as usual and in the typical Kingsolver style, wonderful.  It was a breathtaking and poignant novel that I would recommend to anyone.


Popular posts from this blog

In Memoriam

One of my most favorite bookish podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, has ended its tremendously successful run.  It has been around seemingly forever and was one of my staples in book recommendations. It will be sorely missed and leaves a space in my podcast listening zone that I'm striving to fill.  While I understand that the podcast em-cees, Michael and Anne, have their own lives that they probably want to continue with (and podcasting takes a lot of time, particularly when you're as popular as they are and, for example, as popular as the Manic Mommies are/were), they will be sorely missed.  However you can find them on both Goodreads and on Twitter.

In anticipation of their ultimate decision to end the podcast, I found a number of other really awesome podcasts to fill the void, some of which are bookish and some of which aren't.  For your listening pleasure:

BookRiot - more of a news in the publishing industry podcast but still pretty awesome;All the Books - a weekly po…

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

I was hesitant to pick up Justin Cronin's trilogy, which began with The Passage, because I was vampired out.  But it's different. It combines science fiction and westerns and spans about 1500 pages and 1000 years and generations, upon generations of people.  It's dystopian and hopeful all at the same time! The vampires don't sparkle, thankfully, and the story isn't just told in prose - it's told via letters, journals, scientific journals, flashback, the whole nine yards.
As the book opens, we find our beloved characters in a time of peace and relative prosperity.  There have been no viral attacks for twenty years. The main characters are all struggling with something that has broken them and they each struggle. And there was also Zero, the ultimate bad guy, that wants his say and his ultimate revenge. This book is wonderful in the sense that it is Cronin at his absolute best - he is a storyteller on par with perhaps the best of the fantasy writers - of any w…

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I'll be honest - this wasn't the first time that I had read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The last time I read it was 9 years ago, right after my son was born - I can't believe that it has been out for that long. I'm glad that I re-read it now, because I found myself in a place where I could relate more to Ms. Gilbert and her experiences.

At the start of this book, we learn that the author is not in a good place. It's the middle of the night, she's on her bathroom floor sobbing and her marriage is literally going down the toilet. She enters quickly into another relationship that is very stressful for her and ultimately very heartbreaking. She was hurt, depressed and anxious. In order to heal, she decided to spend one year of her life traveling in order to get to know herself.  For the first third of the year, Ms. Gilbert spent time in Italy. For the middle third, Ms. Gilbert spent her time in India and in the last third, she went to Bali.

I really enjo…