This novel is Barbara Kingsolver's most recent piece of literature (she has also written The Poisonwood Bible - see my post about that novel here) and it is my favorite. It tells the story of Harrison William Shepard, following him from 1929 to 1951. In 1929, the reader meets him on a hacienda in Isla Pixol. Its very confusing at first, and it took me a few times to really get started reading - every time I put it down I would have to restart at the beginning because I was so confused. But after the first chapter or two, it makes much more sense and you're suddenly unable to put it down. One day, he mixes plaster for the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He then joins the Rivera household as cook and typist for Rivera, his artist wife, Frida Kahlo and later for their guest, the exiled Communist leader Leon Trotsky (exiled to Mexico by Stalin in their struggle for power after Lenin's death). This novel is wrapped up in history - it is an epic journey from the "Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover." It covers topics such as a boy with a mixed-culture identity (Mexican mother, American father) and the Red Scare following the end of WWII. I highly recommend it to everyone - you don't have to be interested in history at all to enjoy this novel, when I read it, half the references completely passed over my head and now, looking back, it all makes sense. As the book description writes, "With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time."
Yet, even though I didn't understand who Trotsky was and what he was doing in Mexico if he was a Russian communist, it was still a beautifully written novel, and I hope you get the chance to read it! Rating: ★★★★★