As WWII loomed, and Hitler tightened the noose around the Jews of Europe, Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," took place throughout Germany onAs WWII loomed, and Hitler tightened the noose around the Jews of Europe, Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," took place throughout Germany on November 9th and 10th, 1938. Almost 30,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps, 200 synagogues were destroyed, and 91 Jews were beaten to death.
The British, which ruled Palestine after WWI, were aware of the importance of Arab oil to successfully fight the coming war. They published a White Paper on May 17, 1939, that reduced Jewish immigration to Palestine to a trickle, severely limiting the number of Jews permitted to enter the country in an effort to pacify the Arab leadership's demand for a halt to Jewish immigration.
Thus, in the late 1930's, when the Jews of Germany and Austria were in great danger, Palestine was closed to them. The rise of the Nazis in Germany in 1933 and the later military conquests by Germany gave Hitler's antisemitic government control over most of the populations of Europe. As the realization grew that the Nazi's were intent on the extermination of European Jews, there was an urgent need for them to emigrate. However, most countries closed their doors to them. Only Palestine held out the hope of new settlement where Jews would be welcome. Or rather, that would be the case if it were not for the British restrictions.
The Jews already living in Palestine were determined that their trapped brethren in Europe who managed to escape the coming conflagration, must be brought to Palestine. Thus, the movement for "illegal immigration," which its proponents preferred to call "clandestine immigration," was launched.
Ships, most of them unseaworthy, were hired and set sail from various European ports toward Palestine. The British, who had at their disposal battleships, radar and airplanes, managed to intercept most of them, and sent their Jewish passengers back to certain death in Europe. From 1934 until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, some 3,000 "illegal immigrants" met their deaths while struggling against the British to enter Palestine. Also, many of the Jews who attempted to immigrate to the Mandatory Palestine during the 1940s were caught after a struggle while arriving by any and every route. They were interned in detention camps - British concentration camps - only differing from the German camps in that the inmates were not starved, gassed or cremated. Over time 50,000 people were imprisoned in these camps during and after WWII, and several thousand children were born there. One such camp was "Atlit," which is the setting for "Day After Night."
The Atlit detention camp, located near Haifa, was constructed by the British Mandate in Palestine, at the end of the 1930s, as a military camp on the Mediterranean coast. It was converted by them between 1939 -1948 to a detention camp for illegals who found themselves, yet again, incarcerated behind barbed wire. The novel takes place over the course of a few months and is based on the true story of the rescue of the inmates from the Atlit camp in October 1945.
The narrative focuses on four Jewish women, all Holocaust survivors, all Atlit inmates, all from extremely different backgrounds, who wait for their release from the camp and the freedom to, hopefully, begin new lives as pioneers on kibbutzim, (collective farms or settlements). Anita Diamant writes, "Not one of the women in Barrack C is twenty-one, but all of them are orphans."
Leonie is a lovely, sophisticated Parisian who was forced into prostitution. She slept with Germans in order to survive. Many of "her men" found their pleasure by causing her physical and emotional pain. The experience has crippled her psychologically. At first, her three new friends at Atlit condemn her and she is told by one, "When they do find out about you, they will shame you in public. They will send you away. Maybe they will even stone you to death, which would be very biblical, don't you think? And so appropriate." Leonie clearly remembers the times when she faced situations when refusal would have meant death. But she is not the only woman in the group who did whatever necessary in order to survive. "Many were reluctant to tell their own stories because all of them began and ended with the same horrible question" 'Why was I spared?'"
Zorah is a survivor of Auschwitz where she lost everyone she loved. She utilized her gift for languages there and added Romanian, German, some Italian and French to her native languages, Yiddish and Hebrew. This unusual linguistic education, learned from fellow inmates, was her method of survival although her life is still so haunted by atrocitites that she has become numb. When Atlit inmates pray and praise god, Zorah silently chants to a "God who brings Nazis to his universe."
Shayndel is a Polish Zionist who fought with the partisans during the war. She is a modest, humble woman, who works with the Palmach, the Jewish military forces, in Atlit. Her job is to find out which Jews, if any, had been Nazi collaborators.
Tedi, a Dutch Jewess, tall and blonde, was once told by a friend in Amsterdam that she was lucky - she looked like a poster child for Hitler Youth. She "passed" as an Arayan until she was captured near the end of the war. Tedi escaped from a boxcar in route to a concentration camp and was found by British soldiers who sent her to a displaced person's center in Landsberg. After more barbed wire, endless barracks and waiting in more lines than she could count, she wound up in Atlit.
These four women's shared horrors surrounding the Holocaust bond them in friendship. They give each other love and support in order to get through each day and try to recover some semblance of "normal" life.
Obviously "Day After Night" is not a pleasant read, although the novel is well written and the characters are extremely life like. I think the author's point of view is extremely optimisic. I was haunted by the story long after finishing it. One of the consequences the survivors face, besides their wartime experience and survivors guilt, is the challenge of building new lives. Many are just not up to it. The pain they live with saps their energy and will to live. However, the four friends, Leonie, Zorah, Shayndel, and Tedi seem to have hope for a future and the strength to overcome their suffering and fight for redemption. ...more
"Duty to The Dead" opens on Tuesday, November 21, 1916, at 8: A.M. Our protagonist, Bess Crawford is onboard a ship in the Mediterranean heading towar"Duty to The Dead" opens on Tuesday, November 21, 1916, at 8: A.M. Our protagonist, Bess Crawford is onboard a ship in the Mediterranean heading toward England, writing in her journal.
World War I, the "War to End All Wars" is in its second year. It began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, at the hands of Serbian nationalists. This act of terror was seen as the immediate trigger of the war. Of course, there were many other reasons - underlying justifications - for such a horrific conflict to begin, initially between the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia, France, and Great Britain.
In the beginning, the soldiers of the above countries enlisted for battle with a great deal of idealism and patriotism - but what did they know? They were innocent pawns. However, the heads of their governments were not so innocent. When war was declared, there were street celebrations in most of Europe's capital cities. No one envisaged trench warfare in August 1914, let alone the appalling casualties that occurred over the 4 years of fighting. The belief was that the conflict would be over in weeks...months. The soldiers, and those who loved them, soon realized that the war was not a glorious call to arms or a romantic charge on horses between dashing young men; it was attrition warfare on a massive scale, killing millions with little movement on both sides for the soldiers who survived and died on the mud-caked battlefields. Trench warfare was grim...ghastly, unimaginable! By wars end, in 1918, 8.5 million of the 65 million men mobilized were dead, and another 21 million wounded - 7.7 million were POWs or missing in action - and that does not include the civilian deaths, or the walking wounded, who would today be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But I digress...so back to Bess Crawford, a spunky, independent, courageous young woman, quite different from her counterparts - the usual upper-middle-class British gentlewoman. Bess grew up in India and learned the importance of honor and duty from her officer father. Not very much surprises her, as she and her mother have followed Bess' father ("Colonel Sahib") around the world, and some of the things they have seen were not very pretty.
At the beginning of hostilities, Bess volunteered for the British Army Nursing Corps, caring for the wounded and dying on the battlefields of France, and on the hospital ship Britannic, a sister ship to the Titanic. Unfortunately the Britannic is struck by a mine in the Aegean Sea and sinks. Bess survives, but is injured during the disaster. When we first meet her she is on her way home to convalesce with her family in England.
Throughout nurses' training the women were warned about letting themselves become too emotionally involved with their patients. Their Matron had told them many times, "They are yours to comfort, yours to heal, but not yours to dream about." And Bess, being so level-headed, never thought this issue would be a problem for her. But she is, after all, a normal young woman...and not inured to the charms of a handsome, albeit very ill, young officer. Lieutenant Arthur Graham, who is suffering from severe wounds, is friendly, kind, as upbeat as possible given the circumstances, and handsome, despite his wounds. He befriends many of his fellow soldiers, the doctors and nursing staff, and Bess, in particular. The two form a close friendship and Bess wonders if she is in love with the Lieutenant. It certainly seems that her feelings are reciprocated. But no matter how hard the medical staff tries, Arthur dies of his wounds. Before he dies, he makes Bess promise to go to his home, Owlhurst, in Kent to deliver a message to his brother Jonathan. "Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right." Bess is devastated by Arthur's death and troubled about visiting his family. Still, she feels compelled to do her "duty to the dead."
When Bess arrives at the Graham house in Kent, Jonathan Graham listens to his brother's last wishes with surprising indifference. Neither his upper-crust mother, nor his brother Timothy, seem to pay much attention to the dying man's last words. Unsettled by this, Bess begins to believe that her duty to fulfill Arthur's request may involve more than delivering a message.
While visiting the family, she is asked by the local doctor to assist him on a few cases. When she is ready to leave Owlhurst for home, and then back to the frontlines, the doctor asks Bess, one last time, to help him on a difficult case. Arthur's eldest brother, Peregrin, heir to the family name and estate, is to return home from an insane asylum, (where he was incarcerated for murdering a maid at the age of 14), because he is dying of pneumonia. As Bess is such a good nurse, Peregrin doesn't die and she begins to wonder, as she speaks with Peregrin and meets and talks with townspeople, if perhaps Peregin did not, in fact, commit the murder. But if Peregrin is not the killer, then who is?
I thoroughly enjoyed "Duty to The Dead," the first in a new series. Charles Todd, is actually a pseudonym for the mother and son writing team of David Todd Watjen and Carolyn L.T Watjen. They are also the bestselling authors of the extremely successful Inspector Rutledge mysteries, which also take place during WWI. I discovered Inspector Rutledge a few years ago and am a huge fan of his series. The authors bring the terrible war and its consequences to life on the pages of their novels, while developing their characters and creating original mysteries. I highly recommend both "A Duty to the Dead," and the Rutledge series - see links to some of my favorite Charles Todd books below.
The writing here is tight and the period descriptions of rural England struggling through the war are exceptional. Bess Crawford is one of the brightest, most likeable, persistent heroines I have met in a long time. Highly recommended! ...more
With "The Little Stranger" author Sarah Waters departs from the settings, characters and style of her first three historical novels, "Tipping the VelvWith "The Little Stranger" author Sarah Waters departs from the settings, characters and style of her first three historical novels, "Tipping the Velvet," "Affinity," and "Fingersmith," all set in Victorian England. Nor is this book like her more recent "The Night Watch," a sensitive and passionate love story set in wartime England. "The Little Stranger" is a sinister, Hitchcockian-like tale of a haunted house, ghosts and madness. It provides a most chilling, unputdownable read.
It was the summer of 1919, almost a year after the end of World War I, when the boy, (Faraday, our narrator), first saw Hundreds Hall, the Ayres' family estate in Warwickshire, England. His mother used to work at the Hall as a servant. The event that brought him there was an "Empire Day fete." He and other local children made the Boy Scout salute, received commemorative medals and had tea. Although no one was allowed inside the main house, an impressive building of the Georgian period, his mother still had connections with the servants, so mother and son quietly entered by a side door. The boy was awed by all he saw. Such riches! To him this was a magnificent mansion, owned for generations by people way above his social class. Years later, he was to remember the building's elegantly aging beauty, the "worn red brick, the cockled windows, the weathered sandstone edgings," and the extraordinary gardens, the like of which he had never seen or experienced outside of churches. He was thrilled by the polished wooden floors, "the patina on the wooden chairs and cabinets, the bevel of a looking glass, the scroll of frame." Hundreds Hall is to play as big a role in this novel as any living character.
Young Faraday was an obedient boy, however he suddenly did something totally out of character. He was fascinated by one of the white walls "which had a decorative plaster border - a representation of acorns and leaves." He took out his pocket knife and pried one of the acorns loose. It really wasn't an act of vandalism, although others might think so. He merely wanted to possess a piece of such grandeur.
The Ayres family was, by no means, part of the blue-blooded nobility....just moneyed country squires, to the manor bred. At this time, Mrs. Ayres was in her early twenties and quite lovely. Her husband was just a few years older. The couple had a little girl, six year-old Susan, upon whom they doted. Their happiness was not to last.
Post WWII England was a time of great economic and social change. Clement Richard Attlee, a British Labour Party politician, had been in office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for just about one year - not long enough yet to impact the country's flailing economy - the UK's most significant problem at the time. The war effort had left Britain nearly bankrupt. WWII had cost the country about a quarter of its national wealth. This meant that strict rationing of food and other essential goods were continued in the post war period. Many families of the nobility and upper classes found themselves with their fortunes greatly diminished by two world wars, and, unable to afford all the servants it took to maintain their estates, rooms were closed off. Mansions crumbled. As the middle class grew, the opulent lifestyles of the rich and famous decreased. Hundreds Hall, and its gradual decline, seem to parallel the country's reduced circumstances. An entire British way of life that had lasted for centuries was dying.
Almost thirty years after that first visit, the boy, now a country doctor and a very lonely, disappointed man, returns to Hundreds Hall. He is called to the mansion by members of the Ayres family to treat a sick maid. Dr. Faraday is struck dumb as he drives up to the house. His memory of its former grandeur clash with the reality of its present degeneration, which horrifies him. The mansion and grounds have been left to rot and molder, the once beautiful gardens are unkempt and filled with weeds and dried ivy. The family is selling off enormous land holdings in order to keep their home. They subsist on the meager income of the remaining dairy farm.
The family has changed as significantly as their mansion, and are, perhaps, in even worse condition. The husband/father died at a relatively young age, and the beloved Susan died of diphtheria while still a child. Mrs. Ayres has never gotten over her terrible grief at the loss of her daughter - her "one true love." It is unclear if she is even capable of loving her other children, born after Susan's death. The Ayres son, Roderick, has been left mentally and physically damaged by the war. Caroline, the plain and eccentric daughter, with her stocky build and hairy legs, seems to be the most mentally stable person in the family. She has long accepted the fact that she will remain a spinster....for who would marry a plain, penniless woman?
There is something oddly unnatural about Hundreds Hall. Faraday first hears of the haunting when he initially visits to treat the maid. She complains that this "isn't like a proper house at all. Its too big and so quiet it gives you the creeps." There is something malevolent within - furniture moves, strange stains appear on the walls, footsteps can be heard coming from the deserted rooms on the top floor, doorknobs turn but when the door is opened, no one is there. Whispers are heard from unknown sources and the eerie events become truly frightening when some family members are physically hurt. There is a mysterious fire in Rodrick's room which almost kills him. The gentle family dog uncharacteristically bites a young girl and has to be put down. Mrs. Ayres, who spends most of the time dreaming of past glories, shows signs of marks and scratches on her body. The external haunting and the family's internal turmoil seem to merge as the tension continues to build throughout the storyline.
After treating his patient, Faraday is invited to tea, and despite the differences in classes he becomes a close friend of the family which seems to depend on him - his kindness, practicality and stability. Local physicians were never treated as social equals by landed gentry like the Ayreses before the war. The doctor is thrilled by his new upper class connections, especially as he in unable to forget his own humble beginnings, nor how his shopkeeper father and servant mother sacrificed to send him to medical school.
The author spends more than the first 100 pages setting the gothic scenario with the haunted house as the center of activity. Faraday, ever the scientist, refuses to accept any supernatural explanation for the events at Hundreds Hall. A colleague tells him, "that the cause might be "some dark germ, some ravenous, shadow-creature, some 'little stranger,' spawned from the troubled unconscious of someone connected with the house itself."
Scary as the book may be at times, this is much more than a ghost story or historical thriller. There are many different threads woven into this tale. Ms. Waters' characters come to life on the page, along with their conflicting emotions about their situations and the changing times. Faraday is a superb narrator, although not totally reliable, (obvious to the reader), due to his lack of confidence about class differences. Contradictorily, he has a strong sense of confidence about his education and abilities as a doctor. He also lacks objectivity because of his conflicting feelings about each of the Ayres family members.
This is a most original take on the genre, although a bit too long. The writing could have been tighter at times. Kudos to Sarah Waters, who never disappoints, (at least she never disappoints me)! I highly recommend this book, especially to fans of Alfred Hitchcock - rather than those of Stephen King. Although King fans, like me, might like "The Little Stranger" too. ...more
Each year, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, legions of young British women, whom, for one reason or another, failed to "catch" a husband during tEach year, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, legions of young British women, whom, for one reason or another, failed to "catch" a husband during their debutante season, set sail for India in the hopes of meeting and "snaring" young, eligible men to wed - single civil servants, military officers, etc, were plentiful in the subcontinent, and eager to marry and end their lonely lives as bachelors. Men of the aristocratic class outnumbered women three to one. These women were heedless of the severe Indian climate, the country's many languages, various cultures and the loneliness and boredom some were about to experience. The ships filled with hopeful, nervous young ladies, were called the "Fishing Fleets." Women who failed, once more, in the marriage market, traveled back home alone, and were called "returned empties."
In London, 1928, Viva Holloway boards the ship, the Kaiser-i-Hind, bound for Bombay, with two young ladies and a troublesome teenage boy in her charge. The lovely, intelligent and very spirited Viva, is orphaned - her parents and younger sister died in India years before. The main purpose of her voyage is to retrieve a chest which her parents left for her in Simla, the summer capital of the British Raj. She does not know all the details about her family's deaths and is ambivalent about discovering them. There is too much pain involved in thinking about her lost loved ones. Since she has little money, the only way she can travel to India is by taking a paid position as a chaperone. Viva had posted an advertisement in a magazine "The Lady."
She is an extremely responsible spinster, in her mid-twenties, but is a complete novice at monitoring and overseeing young people and their behavior. Yet, how difficult can the job be? Her goal is to lead an independent life and to become a writer. She plans to write a series of articles, perhaps even a book, about the "Fishing Fleet," to be published by "The Voice," a feminist magazine begun by suffragettes. Viva wants to "lift the lid on what really happens to all those woman going to India, and what they think they'll do when the whole thing collapses."
One of Viva's charges, Rose Wetherby, met her dashing fiance briefly at a party during the Season. He is a calvary officer who spends much of his time with his men patrolling the outposts of the British Empire. Rose is helplessly naive and although she thinks she loves her soon-to-be husband, she has a few second thoughts. She barely knows the man she has promised to share her life with.
Victoria Sowerby, called Tor, is to accompany her best friend Rose, and act as her bridesmaid. She is going to India find a husband. Chubby, somewhat clumsy, and not anywhere near as beautiful as Rose, she is thankful to get away from her domineering mother, and hopes to find love and adventure.
And then there is Guy Glover, a troubled teenager, who is returning to his parents in India after a ten year absence. He has been expelled from public school for gambling and not paying his considerable debts. Guy is "not a strong boy mentally," advises Mr. Partington, the school's headmaster. Indeed, as the novel develops, we discover just how unbalanced Guy is.
The girls form shipboard friendships, and Viva, against her will, finds herself attracted to Frank, the ship's flirtatious doctor. She is determined to snub him, as she has been hurt in a prior relationship, and does not trust the fleeting affections of men. But Rose, Tor and Viva form a tenuous friendship with him anyway, as he is interesting, fun to be around, very bright and more sincere than Viva originally thought.
One evening, Guy, who remains a sinister presence throughout the novel, loses his temper and attacks a prominent member of an Indian family. This fight, which leaves the man deaf in one ear, sets in motion serious trouble for himself and his temporary chaperone. When Guy arrives in Bombay and Viva informs his parents of the fight and other misbehavior on the Kaiser-i-Hind, Guy lies to his parents and says that Viva is an incompetent. He accuses her of drinking and not paying attention to her charges. However, Guy's surreptitious drinking has gone way over his allotted budget. Enraged, Mr. Glover refused to pay Viva her salary and her ticket. She is left with much less funds than she had planned on.
Upon landing, Rose goes off with her fiance. Tor is to stay with Cecilia "Ci Ci" Mallinson, a vampish, narcissistic middle-aged woman, who is a friend of the family. And Viva winds up at the local YWCA. The three women stay in touch and do see each other as frequently as possible. Guy, turns up to make trouble for Viva whenever he can.
The stories of these four main characters play out against exotic India and the period's political turmoil. Mahatma Gandhi, political and spiritual leader of his country during the Indian independence movement, was a pioneer of resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience and his passive resistance for a free India. Meanwhile, India's Muslim population, was stirring. There would eventually be much violence between Hindus and Muslims.
Although I am fascinated by this period in Indian history, the first hundred pages of "East of the Sun" are slow and somewhat boring. There are so many pages filled with pointless descriptions of hair styles, clothing, shopping, tea parties, etc., when the author could have written more about the characters and the political situation. Many of Guy's antics, and their consequences, are unbelievable - even for a mentally unstable person. Ms. Gregson's plot feels very forced at times. The writing and the story improve after the first 100 pages - and then the novel gets much better.
I recommend this to readers who have the patience to wade through the 1st 100 pages. After that, it is a worthwhile read. ...more
Barbara Kingsolver paints extraordinary portraits of flamboyant Mexican artists Diego Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo, as well as Lev Trotsky, a RussBarbara Kingsolver paints extraordinary portraits of flamboyant Mexican artists Diego Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo, as well as Lev Trotsky, a Russian Communist and Lenin's former companion, in her riveting novel, "La Lacuna." Trotsky, is in Mexico City to seek exile with the couple while hiding from Stalin's assassins. This epic saga takes us on a journey from 1920's Mexico to Pearl Harbor, WWII, and America in the 1950's, where citizens are paranoid and terrified by the idea of communists in their midst. Senator Joe McCarthy and the The House Committee on Un-American Activities intensify this paranoia.
In an interview, Ms. Kingsolver said, "I wanted to examine the birth of the modern American political psyche, using artists as a vehicle. I would start with the Mexican revolutionary muralists of the 1930's, and end with the anti-communist censorship of the 1950's. Diego Rivera was such a crucial part of that history, I thought I should have my narrator live in his household for a time. I was interested in the muralists, these men with their party work and collective shenanigans." She also writes a great deal about the indomitable "Frida," her art, and her relationships with the 2 main men in her life, Rivera and Trotsky. The sights, sounds, and even the tastes of Mexico are vividly captured in the novel so that one feels like they are right there, in Mexico, alongside her characters.
Ms Kingsolver goes on to say, in this same interview, "Frida is such a potent and intriguing person, she was everywhere I looked: her doodles and drawings even cover the margins of Diego's financial ledgers. I felt her poking at my shoulder, saying, 'Look, chica, you're ignoring me.' She was not a frozen icon at all, but a rogue, and a complex person with aches I understood. She started to steal scenes. She was a natural for drawing out my reclusive narrator - those two had brilliant chemistry."
Harrison William Shepherd, the novel's protagonist and narrator, is an accidental bystander to history. His journey through three tumultuous decades of the 20th century begins in a solitary boyhood. It continues through the Depression and World War II, and culminates in the ugly hysteria of the Red Scare in the United States.
Shepard, born in the United States to an indifferent Mexican mother and an absent American father, is taken to Mexico at an early age. The boy is initially reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico, and then enrolled by his father in an exclusive American boarding school where he is a lonely outsider. After escaping life in school, he returns to Mexico City in the 1930s.
It is in Mexico City that Harrison finds a precarious home with in the household of famed Mexican muralist Diego River and his wife, the exotic, formidable artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. Here he is treated as a servant or a member of the family, as it suits the couple. Life is whatever the boy learns from a series of housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen. He also runs errands in the city's streets.
Rivera and Kahlo are ardent communists who fight for workers' rights, as long as it doesn't impinge on the smooth workings of their home and art strudios. One fateful day, Shepherd is given the odd job of mixing plaster for Rivera. He originally learned this skill by mixing flour for tortillas. During this time he also discovers a passion for Aztec and Mayan history and art. Later, when he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for survival, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution.
All important to this tale are the journals he keeps from early boyhood throughout his life. It is through these journals and a series of letters that the story unfolds. Later in life, living in the U.S., he becomes a novelist and is subsequently investigated by the The House Committee on Un-American Activities. He instructs his secretary, Violet Brown, to burn his diaries and letters. She saves them instead, which is fortunate, as without them there would be no storyline. Ms. Brown also plays a major role in this tale.
La Lacuna is a thrilling adventure though history accompanied by some of the period's most colorful characters. The title word, "Lacuna," refers to a gap or something that's absent... a missing section of text or an extended silence in a piece of music, etc. The motif of "lacuna" is the crucial missing piece which runs throughout the novel,
I have long been fascinated by Diego Rivera, the man and his art, and, especially by Frida Kahlo. Her paintings have always moved me and her biography is truly unique. So, I was thrilled when this book came out. Happily, Ms. Kingsolver's literary, historical novel has exceeded my expectations. It is the author's sixth novel, and won the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction and the Library of Virginia Literary Award. "La Lacuna" was also shortlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. ...more