The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver - review by Ophelia Field

Ophelia Field

Once Upon A Time In Mexico

The Lacuna


Faber & Faber 527pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

‘You know reviewers, they are the wind in their own sails. I should like to write my books only for the dear person who lies awake reading in bed until page last, then lets the open book fall gently on her face, to touch her smile or drink her tears.’ So declares this novel’s protagonist and part-time narrator, a Mexican-American writer named Harrison Shepherd. If Kingsolver shares a similar ambition for her own book, she has had her wish in the case of this reviewer at least. I was both smiling and crying when I reached The Lacuna’s subtle, tragicomic conclusion – moved, in part, simply by Kingsolver’s vast imaginative achievement, spanning several decades of Mexican and American history.

This is Kingsolver’s first novel in a decade, returning to her early theme of those who migrate between north and central America, but without her previous device of interweaving plots. Harrison Shepherd is first introduced as ‘the boy’ in Mexico in 1929, living with his mother on her

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