In haste... I can't think when I was so swept away by a novel. A glorious play on the idea of narrative--history, fiction, the fictionality of history, the truths that the very best and most imaginative fiction can convey. I was hooked from the beginning, swept along by the story, but the prose is sos fine that I kept skipping back to replay a paragraph here, a paragraph there. I loved the characterisation of Kahlo and Trotsky, and of the protagonist. I tried to read The Poisonwood Bible years ago and I'm not sure I finished it, but The Lacuna is a masterpiece.
And what made it perfect for me was Kingsolver's reading. Not often a writer is also so fine a performer.
This book was first recommended to me by a good friend. She had read the book, not listened to the audio version. When I looked at the reviews for the audio version I was a bit taken aback by the polarized opinions on the reader. I decided to take a chance after hearing the sample. I am so glad I did. This is by far my most cherished audio book so far. The author does a marvelous job reading her own book. She performs it. She feels it. I have about 20 minutes left in the book and I don't want it to end. I'm leaving it for the perfect moment.
The story is epic, sad, ordinary, and the same time completely enlightening. Several times I wished I could have done the audio equivalent of underlining a turn of phrase, so perfectly put. This book is a treasure.
The protagonist is just a vehicle for a history lesson. I'm interested in the history of Mexico, which is why I selected the book. But I expected a developed character and a story, in addition to a historical survey. I found the book inauthentic and contrived. And I hated Barbara Kingsolver's reading style.
Barbara Kingsolver has the ability to create memorable characters. They come to life on the page. She also is able to write very humerous scenes. This is the first of her books I have read. I enjoyed it so much I am now reading The Poisonwood Bible.
I have long been a Kingsolver fan and was eager to read this new book. Harrison Sheppard, the main character, is highly compelling and the historical aspects of the book make it even more interesting to read. For me, getting to know Frida Kahlo was especially intriguing because I have long wondered about her appeal. The Lacuna touched me deeply will stay with me for a long time. Harry says in the book that the best part of art, including books, is what is left unsaid. So much is implied in this book and so much pertains to the political and economic situation today without actually being that.
Like a few others, I have loved all of Kingsolver's previous books, my favorite being the Poinsonwood Bible. Her writing is brilliant. It is unfortunate that she chose to be the narrator/reader of this one, as her narration has ruined the story. She enunciates way too carefully and reads like a grammar school teacher to children. It was hard to get through the book because it was so difficult to listen to her.
I'd really like my money back. I usually adore Barbara Kingsolver but I can't make my way through this book. I started this book over 5 times because Ms. Kingsolver insists on over-pronouncing each consanent and separating each word from the next so distinctly that it's ponderous. It's as if she's reading to 4th graders. She also emphasizes words that are unimportant and that is confusing.
Kingsolver usually chooses topics that are important and makes them intensely interesting by drawing you into the characters but somehow this book comes across as if she was personally interested in this historical era and wanted to preach to us about it to us for another agenda. I've given up. Perhaps if a skilled performer had read it, I would have been involved enough to followed it through.
I would give this book more than 5 stars if I could. I loved every minute of it. This is one of those experiences where I couldn't wait to get back to listening to see what would happen next, yet wanted to savor the story and the language, and not have it end. Kingsolver does a surprisingly good job reading (surprising because she is a writer, after all, not as far as I know a narrator, and also because there are a LOT of very different characters in this book). Far and away the best part of her narration is the voice she gives to Violet Brown. Don't miss this!
Barbara Kingsolver has written an amazingly beautiful book which is thought provoking through out it's rich account of the main characters life. The main character retains an innocence and goodness despite the many ups and downs in his life. The author has also managed to convey important 20th century history with out a history lesson but as a backdrop to the main characters life and interweaves that history seamlessly. Bravo!
The book is an interesting insight into the murder of Lev Trotsky in Mexico, the use of troops against the WWI veterans in Washington, and the Anti-Communist mania in the U.S. following WWII. The book is a little slow in the middle sections, after the main character returns to the U.S. from Mexico, but the characters and the settings are interesting and the ending is quite good. Not quite as special as the author's best known book, "The Poisonwood Bible."