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The Crucial Missing Piece -" The Lacuna",
This review is from: The Lacuna: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Barbara Kingsolver has written a book of historical fiction that reads like a Frida Kahlo painting: allegory, poetry, beauty & pain. Kingsolver writes likes a great artist paints.
The story opens in 1929 and ends in 1951. Harrison William Shepherd (a fictional character) born in the US to a US father and a Mexican mother, is a child in Mexico. Since his parents are both disinterested in parenting, he makes his own way in life. First he is a cook/secretary in the household of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, then for Bolshevik/Marxist Revolutionary Leon Trotsky during his exile in Mexico. After Trotsky is assassinated, Shepherd is encouraged by Kahlo to move to the US where he finally becomes what he was meant to be; an author of historical fiction.
The backbone of the story is the Communist/Worker's Movement in Mexico & the US and Rivera, Kahlo & Trotsky's part in it. They provide the political dialogue for the relationship of US politics and art. Kingsolver imagines what it would have been like living in these households during this turbulent period. The story culminates with Shepherd being called before the US Committee on Un-American Activities. But the story is about so much more than politics and history.
If you are an admirer of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, reading this book will be like contemplating their art. The story mirrors the politics and history portrayed in Rivera's murals and the pain and beauty of Kahlo's paintings.
If you enjoy reading historical fiction, this is a beautifully written example.
Update: 6/10/10 Barbara Kingsolver was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction for "The Lacuna". The Orange prize was started in 1996 to recognize female fiction writers around the world.