May 28

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver – Guest Review by Ms S

My nomination for May Faves is The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver. Which I have just, very reluctantly, finished.

I dragged it out as long as I thought I could (the copy belongs to a good friend who let me read it before she read it!). The writing is just beautiful. Lucid, smart, delicate, strong, sharp, measured. All those things and many more. Kingsolver’s knack with dialogue is extraordinary.

The book takes us from Mexico in the 1930s to the US in the 1940s and 1950s. We are with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and Trotsky, and we are with the House Un-American Activities committee too. So there is much that is about politics, but not more than there is about people. There is also much that is fact, but more that is fiction.

The book came out in 2009, I think, and was well timed, in light of the new world order and the war on terrorism (perhaps they are the same thing?). It is chilling to see, for the first time or again, in the full light of Kingsolver’s intellect and heart, what gets done in the name of some sort of purity and nationalism and having all the answers.

But the people in the book are marvellous people, and marvellously written. Not for a second does the book lose them inside what else is going on. I wanted, badly, to be able to read the books written by the fictional author who is the lead character!

I love The Poisonwood Bible too, and it is very different, though just as political. For me, it crossed a line occasionally, whereas The Lacuna never did. Two absolutely wonderful books.