Probably the outstanding feature of this audiobook was the narration by the author, Barbara Kingsolver. The novel is set in the first half of the 20th century, in Mexico and in the US, and includes historical events that are less often included in contemporary fiction--Trotsky's life and his sojourn in Mexico, the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and the communist witch hunts that preceded McCarthy. The narrative voice includes both a "chronicler,' the secretary of the main character; the main character; and the actual reader/narrator of the audio version. Because the author read the book, the pronunciations of the places in Mexico were accurate, and the portrayals of all the characters by the inflection of voice were vivid and believable.The use of an author's work (the main character) set in a different historical period and culture, to comment either directly or indirectly on "current affairs", and the phenomenon of projection of cultural biases and fears onto works of art, were very powerful.
The main character's interrogation by the HUAC was chilling.
(below is the response to the question I first answered)
I looked up the details of Trotsky's life while still listening, and the portrayal of the events of the 30s and 40s in the US, while not "new," seemed particularly relevant in our current "anti-terrorism" culture.
(answer is to different question)
The Lacuna was a particularly effective piece of historical fiction for me; Kingsolver presents events from the perspectives of two quite different characters (Harrison Shepherd, Violet Brown) whose differences provide a rich depth to the story.
That is never an important criterion for me. I was eager to resume listening, found it easy to pick up where I had left off, and was sorry when the book ended.
(answer below to question about the narrator--any weaknesses?)
Nothing. Having the author--in this instance, at least, a very capable narrator--narrate assured that every word was read as the author intended!
There were some "musical transitions" whose correspondence in the print version (which I did not see) I could only infer.
The information about the "Columbian Exchange" in all its complexity is presented in interesting and well-documented detail.
n/a This is a work of historical and geographical analysis, synthesis, and interpretation.
No--although I look forward to listening each time I pick it up.
As non-fiction goes, this book is easy to follow and remember. There is a fair amount of repetition but that aids the listener; references to future chapters are helpful.
I have been quoting information I have learned and have recommended this book to others since the day I began to listen to it.
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