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The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Good Housekeeping's view...

Shortlisted for the prestigious 2010 Orange Prize.

January 2010 Good Housekeeping selection.

Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel in almost 10 years (she is the author of Prodigal Summer and the captivating The Poisonwood Bible) is an achingly complex story that digs deep into our sense of place and security; our fears and prejudices. The tale is of the fictional Harrison Shepherd, who is drawn back and forward between the politics and public passions of both Mexico and the States over three decades from the 1930s. Revealed through his own words as well as diaries and newspaper cuttings, Shepherd’s extraordinary life and encounters with artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Trotsky and the FBI in McCarthy’s America powerfully relate a much bigger story.

Click here to read a Q & A with this author.

If you like Barbara Kingsolver you might also like to read books by Louise Erdrich, Kathryn Stockett and Jacquelyn Mitchard.

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The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

The Lacuna is the heartbreaking story of a man's search for safety of a man torn between the warm heart of Mexico and the cold embrace of 1950s McCarthyite America. Born in the U.S. and reared in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is a liability to his social-climbing flapper mother, Salome. Making himself useful in the household of the famed Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and exiled Bolshevik leader Lev Trotsky, young Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution. A violent upheaval sends him north to a nation newly caught up in World War II. In the mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina he remakes himself in America's hopeful image. But political winds continue to throw him between north and south, in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach - the lacuna - between truth and public presumption. This is a gripping story of identity, loyalty and the devastating power of accusations to destroy innocent people. The Lacuna is as deep and rich as the New World .

About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver’s thirteen books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction include the novels The Bean Trees and the international bestseller The Poisonwood Bible which, amongst other accolades, won the 2005 Penguin/Orange Reading Group Book of the Year award. Her most recent novel is The Lacuna, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction.


After you read The Bean Trees, you’ll run to the bookstore to buy Pigs in Heaven and Animal Dreams. I snap up Kingsolver’s novels from used bookstores so I have copies at the ready if I meet someone who has not yet had the pleasure. Observant and canny in character, Kingsolver’s women have heart and looking through their eyes opens mine. I read these books with a pen so I can easily return to favorite underlined phrases.

Author photo © David Wood

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Book Info

Publication date

5th November 2009


Barbara Kingsolver

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