The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

February 3, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (2009) French title: Un autre monde. Translated by Martine Aubert.

A quick post about my abandoning The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I think I gave it a read shot, I waited until page 215 to let it go. It’s 664 pages long and I couldn’t see myself reading the four hundred and something pages left.

I’m disappointed because I usually enjoy Kingsolver’s books.

This one is the story/journals of Harrison William Shepherd, son of a Mexican mother and an American father. When the book opens, his mother has just left her American husband to follow her Mexican lover to his property on Isla Pixol, Mexico. We’re in 1929 and Harry is 14.

The style is a mix of chapters told by an omniscient narrator, some are made of Harry’s journals sandwiched between chapters by his translator. We understand that Harry is dead, that he became a famous writer, that his translator gathered his journals to make this book.

After a few Mexican years, Harry is sent back to his father in America. Now feeling in a parental mood, he enrolls Harry in a private military school in Washinfton DC. We get to read Harry’s journal: normal boy stuff and news from the outside with riots due to the Great Depression. W’ere in 1930/1931, during the Hoover presidency.

Then it’s back to Mexico with his flighty mother who’s always looking for a man to support her. Harry is hired as a member of Diego Rivera’s domesticity. Trostsky is hidden at the Rivera’s house…and that’s where I dropped out of the story.

I couldn’t find interest in Harry’s life or in the real-life events the book mentions. The only things that interested me were the mentions about Mexican cuisine and the dishes Harry learns to cook. That’s pretty thin and not enough to trudge to the end page.

I was determined to read it all since it’s our Book Club choice for January but really, I was looking at my TBR with longing, eager to pick something else and that’s the sure sign that it’s time to give up and move on. Life is short, there’s never enough reading time. I can’t afford to waste it.

I am now in company of Dave Robicheaux, the gritty New Orleans cop imagined by James Lee Burke. A treat.

  1. February 3, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Ah, dommage! I read this about 10 years ago and quite enjoyed it, but then I am a fan of Frida Kahlo and interested in Trotsky. It is perhaps slightly longer than it needs to be, I agree…


    • February 3, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      I like Frida Kahlo’s paintings too. (There’s an exhibition in Lyon about Mexican painters at the moment.)
      She didn’t manage to engage me this time. Too bad as I really like her books

      Liked by 1 person

  2. February 3, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    I came to this post (after reading an excerpt) expecting to see that you liked it. I don’t care for Kingsolver’s novels. How many have you read?
    I’ve given up (with the rare exception) on books about real people but there may be a few lingering in the TBR stacks.


    • February 3, 2018 at 6:39 pm

      I know that you don’t like her but I still think you’d enjoy Prodigal Summer.


      • February 4, 2018 at 6:29 pm

        It’s not easy to go back for a second try.


  3. February 3, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I was disappointed by this one too. I’d read The Poisonwood Bible and thought, ah yes, this is an author I’m really going to like, and then, The Lacuna, what a let-down. I didn’t finish it either.


    • February 3, 2018 at 6:39 pm

      I thought The Poinsonwood Bible good but I preferred The Bean Tree, Pigs in Heaven and Prodigal Summer.


      • February 3, 2018 at 8:09 pm

        I don’t think I’ll be trying her again… though… never say never!

        Liked by 1 person

        • February 4, 2018 at 10:14 am

          Who knows, right?

          Prodigal Summer is really good. And the other two are a nice story; the Native American side might interest you. These books are very different from The Poisonwood Bible.


  4. February 3, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Different from her other books, but I actually really liked the structure of it. I also enjoyed very much her latest, Flight Behavior:


    • February 4, 2018 at 10:11 am

      I don’t think it’s a bad book, I just couldn’t get along with it.
      Thanks for the link since The Lacuna didn’t put me off her books.


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