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The Lacuna by [Kingsolver, Barbara]
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The Lacuna Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 207 customer reviews

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Product Description

Review

This remarkable novel is a finely crafted story of identity and loyalty. --The Daily Express

Tender, tragic, always compelling. --The Independent on Sunday

Kingsolver stands up for the enduring and redemptive power of a good story. --The Times

Review

"[Kingsolver] hasn't lost her touch...she delivers her signature blend of exotic locale, political backdrop and immediately engaging story line...teems with dark beauty."--People

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1271 KB
  • Print Length: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Open Market Edition edition (23 Oct. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002TVSF9Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 207 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,310 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ten years ago, Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible revealed the grim politics in the Congo. The Lacuna has a similarly political theme, this time turning her focus on Mexico and The US in the 1940s and 1950s.

I have to confess that I had to look up "Lacuna" in the dictionary. For the benefit of anyone as dumb as me, then it means a gap or missing piece. The title is apt on a number of levels. The book is told as if written by the fictional young boy and later writer Harrison Shepherd, initially though his diaries and later in newspaper articles and letters all compiled by the equally fictitious VB whose identity and relationship to the narrator are revealed later in the book.

Harrison grows up in Mexico (his flapper mother is divorced from his American father who still lives in "gringolandia". Always drawn to writing his experiences, after briefly attending a school in the US (where some parts of the diary are missing - one example of a Lacuna) he returns to Mexico and encounters the muralists and political activists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo joining their household as a cook and mixer of plaster for Rivera. Harrison forms a connection with Frida (though unlike most of her male connections, Harrison is clearly gay and is more of a confidant to Frida) and through this connection gets to work with the exiled Lev Trotsky.

Later in the book more real life characters are introduced including the hunt for communist sympathisers led by J Edgar Hoover.

Another interpretation of the Lacuna is some of the "missing" history of the US - much of it political history that it would perhaps rather ignore.
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Format: Paperback
This novel centers on a young man called Shepherd who spends much of his childhood in Mexico, his mother's homeland, and then returns to the US where he becomes a famous historical novelist.

It runs from 1929 to 1951 and covers the Mexican Revolution, the assassination of Trotsky, the Second World War and aftermath, with the emphasis on the witch hunt in the US to track down Communists.

In its obsession with finding subversives, the US political establishment destroyed the lives of many people who were not reds under the bed, including that of Shepherd. (It's a theme that has been done to death in films and books because many "artistic" types were among the victims.)

The first part in Mexico is pretty good, with lively descriptions of the anti-religious fervor of the time and a portrayal of strong characters such as Shepherd's doomed mother who becomes a plaything for any man who will have her.

Less successful is the appearance of real people like Trotsky, Diego Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo, whom Shepherd unconvincingly befriends. (One of the main failings of the book is its inability to project Shepherd's Mexican roots so it's difficult to believe he could have made this intimate connection.)

Unfortunately, it's downhill all the way from then on when Shepherd decides to go back to the US.

Whereas he was a kind of apprentice cook in Mexico, he suddenly becomes a best-selling author in the US. (I didn't get that breakthrough either.)There are several hints that he is a homosexual but this is not spelt out until about three quarters of the way through.

Maybe I am being unfair because Shepherd is a diffident person who finds it hard to make acquaintances and is reticent about his sexuality.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thought The Lacuna was a stronger book than The Poisonwood Bible. A boy grows up in offbeat style hitched to his mother who hitches herself to wealthy men in Mexico. He picks up a love of literature and writing, deep skills in cooking and a love of exploring underwater, during which he travels through an underwater tunnel into a far cave, the first lacuna of the book. Without spoiling the story it has an important role to play.

As a young man, he connects to Mexico's artworld by becoming the cook to Diego Rivera and lover of Frida Kahlo. From this he becomes personal secretary to the exiled Communist leader, Trotsky and his present at his assassination. He travels incognito to the United States, where he was born and where his father still lives, and becomes a successful writer with a loyal secretary of his own until the anti-Communist witch hunts that degraded America begin.

So much for the bones of the plot, but it has a deep sensual elegance in form and writing: something of the world of cuisine enters into the design and language, perhaps. And it has richly imagined and characterised protagonists, both fictional and from the world of fact. This interleaving of real and imagined is very successful, I think, although each person feels as real as the others. Wonderful writing, description, characterisation, coming-of-age, rich loving, tragedy, a moving narrative: all of these would be enough to make it a highly successful novel.

But The Lacuna is more than just a novel, it is a searing indictment in the tradition of The Grapes of Wrath of a disgraceful period in American history in which the universal comes to life in the individual.
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