The Lacuna : A Novel, Paperback
4 out of 5 (6 ratings)


From Pulitzer Prize nominee and award winning author of Homeland, The Poisonwood Bible and Flight Behaviour, The Lacuna is the heartbreaking story of a man torn between the warm heart of Mexico and the cold embrace of 1950s America in the shadow of Senator McCarthy.

Born in America and raised in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is a liability to his social-climbing flapper mother, Salome.

When he starts work in the household of Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo - where the Bolshevik leader, Lev Trotsky, is also being harboured as a political exile - he inadvertently casts his lot with art, communism and revolution.

A compulsive diarist, he records and relates his colourful experiences of life with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Trotsky in the midst of the Mexican revolution.

A violent upheaval sends him back to America; 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.




Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

  Previous  |  Next

Review by

The overall impression I take away of this book is positive but it was a hard work to get to that point and I don't think I'd describe it as a pleasurable read. I rarely, if ever, give up on a book but I have a feeling that many readers would with this one. I think it wasn't until about 300 pages in that I felt remotely engaged with the story. The book effectively has two main sections: the main character's early life in Mexico and then his adult life as a writer in America. The section about Mexico almost feels as if it is just setting the scene to make sense of what comes later on but the factual content is laid on with a heavy hand. The author has clearly done a lot of research and didn't want an ounce of it to go to waste. I felt at one point as if I were reading a historical treatise on the period. With all that detail I didn't feel remotely attached to the characters or interested in what became of them. It is only as his career as a writer takes off that we actually begin to learn something about him as a person and come to see him as a worthy subject for all these words.Having read one of the other short-listed books for the Orange prize ("White woman on a green bicycle") I'm not sure I really understand how this one ended up winning.I'm glad I've read it but I wouldn't rush to recommend it to anyone else.

Review by

The first fifty pages of this novel are almost perfect. Kingsolver whips up the flavors, smells and color of the places that she describes with seemingly effortless grace and style. H.S is a fascinating lead character, but for me Frida steals the show as an wonderful blend of Hollywood starlet and Miss Havisham. The narration is subtle but very effective, and the history is not lathered on but built up gradually, pulling you into the story over many pages. The split between the US and Mexico is stark and excellently rendered, and the recurring motif of the Lacuna cleverly used. A fantastic novel, which was a real surprise. I intend to read more Kingsolver in the future after this experience.

Review by

Tedious and overlong. Very good in parts; nowhere near as good as "The Poisonwood Bible"

Review by

I'm a big fan of Barbara Kingsolver's; The Poisionwood Bible is a beautiful read. This gem, though not quite in that class, is wonderful social commentary on what it is to belong, on what it is like to be viewed as the "other". She sets the narrative at a fascinating time in American history and draws clear links between the American view of self today and its proto-imaginings 60 or 70 years ago. I should also like to thank her for breathing life into Trotsky for me. He was, to me, never more than a dry, un-humorous socialist with a plan that, like his life, came to a precipitate dead end. I never thought of the man before. That said, those sections of the book where Sheperd lived in Trotsky's home dragged just a smidgin - but not enough to detract from a great read. And as fro Frida Kahlo, I think I'm in love! always struck by her paintings and by how, as time as passed she has surpassed her once more famous husband, it was a wonder to me to feel her passion leap off the page. Good stuff; mote please.

Review by

The start is very slow. Stick with it. Once you get into it, the read is well worth it.

  Previous  |  Next

Also by Barbara Kingsolver   |  View all