The Lacuna

Paperback | July 27, 2010

byBarbara Kingsolver

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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.

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From the Publisher

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 fortune...

Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad.In 2000 she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:528 pages, 9 × 6.12 × 1.32 inPublished:July 27, 2010Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554684765

ISBN - 13:9781554684762

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Lacuna Liked all the Frida references
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Lacuna I have been a long-time fan of Barbara Kingsolver, and I was so happy that this book did not disappoint. Although I did find the beginning a bit of a slog, I was glad that I stuck it through. The story is so detailed, you feel immersed in the life of Harrison Shepherd and the mix of Mexican culture, geography, and politics at a very tumultuous time. As a fan of the intriguing Frida Kahlo I was so curious to see how Shepherd's life would mesh with theirs. I worried it would feel forced and false, but to me it was like Frida, Diego, Trotsky, and all those surrounding her were characters from Kingsolver's imagination, they blended so seamlessly into the narrative. Her ability to blend history and fiction is wonderful. To be cliche, I couldn't put it down. The ending was magnificent and soaring and heartbreaking. Since becoming hooked by the Poisonwood Bible I always look forward to another Kingsolver book; this one was worth the wait! Stick with it if you find it a bit dense to start; you will be glad you did.
Date published: 2013-10-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from You feel like you are there. Intelligently written. Beautiful descriptions, you feel like you are there. Type of book you can put down for awhile, do other things, but you want to come back to find out what happens to Harrison (Soli). Without ruining it for you. The era was harsh for those who were perceived to have the "wrong" connections. A whisper from the powers who be at that time, could set up the destruction of a persons life. The story is his life. It will be a book I pass along to friends to read.
Date published: 2012-07-22