Beverly's Reviews > The Lacuna

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
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's review
Feb 11, 2010

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bookshelves: literary
Read in February, 2010

The three stars are an average of five stars and one star. The first half of the book is magnificent. The central characters are quirky and interesting and the feeling of Mexico that Kingsolver evokes is magical. That is, Mexico is magical and the author is fully attuned to it.

I had thought that Kingsolver found a better packaging for her naive political ideas by distancing herself from contemporary life in the U.S. That is, the story is set in the 1930s in a foreign country among famous radicals Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera (not well-developed as a character) and Leon Trotsky.

But after Trotsky's assassination in Mexico City, Sheperd returns to the U.S. and becomes a successful novelist. Then, in making her hero a victim of the House Unamerican Committee hearings of the 1950s, Kingsolver uses an historical event that went way too far and takes it over the top. Her treatment of post war America is crude in its unnuanced and preachy criticism of all mid-century social and political trends.

The ending of the story is a return to magic, as is the image of the lacuna, defined here as an opening that takes you from one world to another. But on the negative side, the story is somewhat static and the main character is not fully realized.
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