The Lacuna

The Lacuna

A Novel

Book - 2009
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Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is mostly a liability to his social-climbing flapper mother, Salomé. From a coastal island jungle to the unpaved neighborhoods of 1930s Mexico City, through a disastrous stint at a military school in Virginia and back again, his fortunes never steady as Salomé finds her rich men-friends always on the losing side of the Mexican Revolution. Sometimes she gives her son cigarettes instead of supper.

He aims for invisibility, observing his world and recording everything with a peculiar selfless irony in his notebooks. Life is whatever he learns from servants putting 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. Making himself useful in the household of Rivera, his wife Frida Kahlo and exiled Bolshevik leader Lev Trotsky, young Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, and the howling gossip and reportage that dictate public opinion.

A violent upheaval sends him north to a nation newly caught up in the internationalist good will of World War II. In the mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina, he remakes himself in America's hopeful image. Under the watch of his peerless stenographer, Violet Brown, he finds an extraordinary use for his talents of observation. But political winds continue to throw him between north and south, in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach--the lacuna--between truth and public presumption.

This is a gripping story of identity, connection with our past, and the power of words to create or devastate, unfolding at a moment when the entire world seemed bent on reinventing itself at any cost.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2009
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9781554684755
Branch Call Number: FIC Kings 3558ad 1
Characteristics: x, 507 p


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Jul 17, 2018

While I very much enjoyed the book, Kingsolver is not the best reader of her own work. I found her voice to be quite flat and it took away from my enjoyment of the CDs. Ended up checking out the book and just read it myself.

Jul 08, 2017

I almost cannot believe this is a novel as it incorporates so much of true life. Many twists and turn and again this book ends up being so relevant today w/ the topics Kingsolver incorporates. It is enlightening from a historical point of view. Easy to warm up to many of this book's diverse characters. She covers a lot of territory in a compelling manner.

Apr 19, 2017

I enjoyed this book as much as Barbara Kingsolver's other books. Through her characters, we learn so much about life, history, resilience, and values that are too often ignored and trammeled.

Mar 26, 2017

A master story teller at work! Kingsolver sucked me right into the lacuna – the gaps and tunnels – where truth lives, unseen and suppressed. The way this control is rife in the media has always been a favourite rant of mine, so I gobbled up her adamant presentation of this theme in many different scenarios. It has been decades since I’ve skimmed against the topics of Aztec history, the citizens’ war effort of the 1940s, the art and politics of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Stalin vs Trotsky, McCarthy’s purge of innocent citizens during his rabid “un-American activities” era … Kingsolver made this all come alive for me through her fictional protagonist. A great read!

Dec 28, 2015

Complex and masterful. An amazing work from this amazing author.

Nov 26, 2015

Selected for the Logan Central Tuesday Book Club in 2016. For a full list of 2016 selections, see the Logan Central Tuesday Book Club list.

Jun 09, 2015

The Lacuna is a marvellous read. It is also an award winner. Much of the book takes place in Mexico and Diego Riviera and Frida Kalho figure prominently. It ends in the 1950's during the McCarthy era when Communist witch hunts were the norm in the US. Highly recommended.

LPL_ShirleyB Jan 17, 2015

The Lacuna won Britain's prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction.

WVMLStaffPicks Sep 10, 2014

A tour de force that takes the reader from the artistic worlds of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to America during the McCarthy trials. Harrison Shepherd's young life is a series of misadventures until he finally manages to ingratiate himself into Rivera's studio as a plaster mixer for the artist's murals. The Rivera household soon becomes a haven for the exiled Lev Trotsky. With Trotsky’s assassination, Harrison is forced to flee the country; when the Americans uncover his Communist background, he again finds himself on dangerous ground. A provocative, insightful, fascinating and epic journey.

Aug 09, 2014

I loved this book. It's a 500-pager so I renewed it twice. I started slowly and then couldn't put it down because the tale is ultimately so moving. I learned new viewpoints on so much of our country's early 20th century history -- so alternative to what we got in school. It was interesting to learn about WW1 soldiers who were tear-gassed in Washington DC when they demanded their rightful pay, to the tragic circumstances of Trotsky's family as all his children were killed by Stalin, the missed opportunities for relations with Russia before the Cold War launched, the tribulations and triumphs of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and finally the impact and horror of the McCarthy anti-communist crusade on this country's psyche. This book is worth the time to pursue it to the poignant end.

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