Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver

Synopsis - Mexico, 1935.  Harrison Shepherd is working in the household of famed muralist Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo.  Sometimes cook, sometimes secretary, Shepherd is always an observer, recording his experiences in diaries and notebooks.  When exiled Bolshevik Leader Lev Trotsky arrives, Shepherd inadvertantly casts in his lot with art and revolution and his aim for an invisible life is thwarted forever.

Review - Barbara Kingsolver is a great writer but I did struggle a bit with this novel.  I enjoyed the first half of the book set in Mexico, lost the plot somewhere in the middle to the last quarter where it picked up and I found it interesting again.  Although the work is fiction, I enjoyed the art part revolving around Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico.  I also liked the letters to Kahlo that featured through the latter half of the book. 

The political aspect of the book was compelling, we all hear about Communism but the portrayal of the persecution of Harrison Shepherd really makes for a big brother society.  To be persecuted and framed just for knowing a Communist even if not politically involved, shows the very nature of the political arena and can be identified today.  3*

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