THE LACUNA

9 May

Difficult for me to imagine that any romantic lover of books would be hard pressed to find something not to like in this provocative history lesson that this author has set before her reading public.

I just don’t know where to begin so if it seems like I‘m jumping about here, it‘s because I am. My thoughts are flowing faster than my hands can type. Foremost is the amazing storyline of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and the life they etched out for themselves in Mexico: in the two family house connected by a bridge, and in the blue house with the red trim where Frida lived as a child.

Harrison Shepherd, when we first meet him, is 12 years old. His Mexican mother has fled the United States and her American husband, to live in Mexico with her wealthy Mexican lover. Left to his own devises while his mother tends to her romantic intrigues, young Shepherd begins exploring and journaling. As he ages, his journal entries are disbursed throughout the book, narrated by an archivist, whom we hear from but actually meet much later. Through his own written accounting we tag along with Shepherd as he begins working for muralist Diego Rivera, mixing paint and plaster. Soon after, hired by Frida Kahlo, as cook and typist, Shepherd becomes Frida‘s confidant and friend. A thread that carries us though to the staggering end.

Mexico, in the early part of the 20th century, was predominately communist, thus the political tone of this story. We meet such notables as exiled Russian revolutionary Leon (Lev) Trotsky, under constant threat of assassination, who is offered sanctuary by Kahlo and Rivera, and who has taken a liking to Shepherd.

This book, from the late 1920s through to the early part of the 1950s, is devoted to the historical figures who intertwine with fictional characters as we, the readers, begin to slip deeper into the world of Harrison Shepherd, vividly executed. We become witness and part of actual events in Mexican and American history through different perspectives expertly and meticulously researched by Kingsolver over the span of the seven years it took her to write this book.

There is so much more. So much. I could go on for pages but lamentably, I won’t. This book, this story, these words must be felt by you; they must be tasted and savored. Nothing I say will do it justice.

More about this book is written here and here.

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3 Responses to “THE LACUNA”

  1. Chris Sullivan May 11, 2014 at 8:59 p05 #

    This sounds fascinating and your enjoyment and love for the book shown through in your review. On a side note; the title of your blog, blacknightblues. Is this a reference to the band Deep Purple or the blues legend, Charlie Brown?

    • WORDMAN May 12, 2014 at 8:59 p05 #

      This is from a song sung by Shelby Lynne – Black Light Blue. I’ve always liked her songs – I took the name and ran with it as black night blues.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. THE BEAN TREES | WORDMAN - March 11, 2015

    […] This is Barbara Kingsolver’s first published book. The first one I ever read of hers. It was in the early part of the 1990s before I even knew who Kingsolver was. I have several of her books now, but never even thought to read any of them until just recently when, on a whim, I read The Lacuna. […]

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