Ok, so we all love Barbara Kingsolver. And we all received The Lacuna for Christmas. Some of us finished it in a timely manner. Some of us didn’t. Some asked me what I thought. Here it is:
I have loved every single word BK has ever written. Not only have her books transported me, but damn, that woman can craft a fine sentence. The kind of sentences that you want to wander back and take another look…just to ponder how in the world she imagined stringing those words together. I even made it though Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which was long once you were done with the love song to asparagus. But Animal Dreams, Bean Trees, Prodigal Summer (especially PS) and Poisonwood Bible? Great reads, but also stories and characters and sentences that would stay with me….for a long, long time.
After J.D. Salinger died, I heard an interview (or perhaps a quote) where he said he wrote, but no longer published because people had their own expectations of what and how you would write, and you would only disappoint. That has stayed with me. How we think we know our favorite authors, and how we are shocked and surprised when they wander outside our expectations, to do a little exploring of their own.
Nevertheless, I had high hopes for The Lacuna. My mom asked if we could share a copy, and I demanded my own. I love the subject, I loved that it promised to transport me to Mexico in the 1930s, and the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I loved that it would be full of those sentences…..
But somehow, it didn’t quite work out that way for me. I wanted to love it, to be so drawn into the story that it would go by too fast, and I would have to go back and re read it, just to fully enjoy it. But for the first part of the book, I kept imagining what a great time she had researching the book, and stepping into a new world. And I am embarrassed to admit this, but I think I was hung up on a male protagonist…in a Barbara Kingsolver book. I mean, she doesn’t do that. I kept wanting the story to be about Frida, and later, I wanted it to be about Violet Brown, his stenographer.
No big insights here. The book was slow for me. It took me three months to finish, and I wanted it to take three days. It was a great story, but the story didn’t grab my heart until page 462 (and that would be where Violet Brown became the voice). I love stories with a female voice. And I do love Barbara Kingsolver…and I imagine she loved writing this book. And love that she wrote something with a different point of view. But I would really love it if she had a sequel featuring Violet Brown…
And, that’s my book report.