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January 24, 2011

Discussing THE LACUNA

Posted by Dana

9780060852580.jpgBarbara Kingsolver's novel THE LACUNA is the life story of a fictional author, Harrison Shepherd, who came of age in Mexico with with real life historic figures Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Lev and Natalia Trotsky and then moved to America to write during the time of J. Edgar Hoover and the American witch hunt for communists.

Though Shepherd didn't really live, Kingsolver breathes life into him through his journals from early boyhood and through his relationship with his secretary Violet Brown.  She uses both of these tools to bring out a character who was so intensely private he would not want to tell his own story.  And it works.  Shepherd and Violet Brown are both irresistable characters as are the "real characters" of Frida Kahlo and Lev Trotsky.

With THE LACUNA, Kingsolver gives us a taste of terrible period in American history when artists were persecuted by the government and shows us a more personal and devastating side of it. 

The book inspired great conversation about the time period and the characters in it.  It also inspired me to want to know more about Frida and her life.  To that end, the movie Frida is now at the top of my Netflix queue and I'm hoping I can talk the book club into a movie night!

-- Dana Barrett, Contributing Editor