My book group met Saturday night. We ate fondue, drank wine, and discussed our latest historical novel, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. Is there any part of that that doesn't sound wonderful?
This was my first Kingsolver book. Kingsolver is another of those must-read authors for me that I keep intending to read but don't seem to get to. That list is so dauntingly long, there's no good place to start. Luckily, this book was elected our book club's choice. Just the push I needed.
Harry grows up in Mexico. As he reaches young adulthood, he finds work with the great Mexican painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. He is with them when they provide asylum to Trotsky, and later, Harry goes to work for this famous exile. Harry is more or less apolitical. Or claims to be. He's simply a cook, a secretary, and a secret novelist.
As historical events unfold, Harry has to leave Mexico. He moves to the United States where he blossoms into a writer, a phenomenally successful one. But the success of his art draws public attention to him as a person. This ends up causing trouble Harry never foresaw.
The Lacuna is an extraordinary book. The fictional characters are woven into history in a completely believable way, so real and compelling they leap off the page. Kingsolver's use of language is beautiful. Although it's a long book, it flies by.
So, we swirled our crusty bread in smooth thick cheese, washed it down with Riesling, and sang Kingsolver's praises. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.