The Lacuna

Here’s my review for the lastest Barbara Kingsolver book, The Lacuna. Highly Recommended!

I’ve read a bunch of contradictory reviews of Kingsolver’s latest work. I think we all recognize that The Poisonwood Bible is a tough act to follow…and I’ve loved every single one of her books. This one is a departure for sure. But as this book settles in my mind, I am finding more and more things to love about it. On it’s surface, it is about a Mexican American boy becoming a man, seemingly alone from the 20’s to the early 60’s. That’s a huge historical mine field. Kingsolver touches on events that I was totally unfamiliar with. I found myself googling historical facts and people to find out what was true and what was fiction – which I love! The result of the glimpses of American and Mexican history is like a picture of a picture of a picture. Today’s disbelief about Japanese-Americans being incarcerated in camps and the preposterous nature of the McCarthy hearings will be the same as our grandchildrens’ disgust with Guantanamo Bay. History repeating and repeating to our detriment.

With wit, lovely prose and not a little humor, Kingsolver presents (I won’t say creates, because Frida and Diego and Trotsky were real) wonderful characters. Presenting HER take on the historical figures, to be sure. I truly enjoyed reading Harrison’s journals and letters. I loved Violet Brown’s input even more. The book made me think, gave me renewed interest in history, gave me alternate perspectives to work with. And made me want to eat good Mexican food! I never felt like the political agenda was being forced down my throat…how could I? Harrison never takes a strong opinion – he’s a spectator with pen in hand. I’m glad I got to see his view of the world.

Additionally, I listened to this book on audiobook. I’m not generally a fan of authors reading their own work, but Kingsolver does a spectacular job. Especially with Violet and Frida.

Book #14

The Amber Room by Steve Berry(April Book Binge book #4) The Amber Room by Steve Berry. If I had a star ranking system, this would not get the highest marks. But it would get high marks. I love WWII fiction of all kinds. I love thrillers. I love thrillers with a little history thrown in. So since this book is about Nazi looted art still being hunted by treasure seekers and the people hiding all the secrets, it appeals to me. The fact that the Amber Room is (was) real, and still missing, is pretty cool.

I noticed on Amazon that after 84 reviews, this book only had three stars. It did drag a little. Berry throws in a lot of the actual history and theories surrounding the missing Amber Room, and then repeats the info quite a bit. I bet this book is great as an abridged audiobook :)

One review commented on Berry’s sort of unbelievable female lead character. I won’t call her a heroine, because Berry does not let her become that. But she is irritating. I find her resistance to her ex-husband annoying, her weakness towards Knoll annoying, and her mean outbursts annoying. I don’t want to give anything away, so that’s all I’ll say. I did, however, really like Paul, Karol and McCoy.

If you want a lukewarm thriller set against the backdrop of places in Europe like Austria, the Alps, Prague and Germany – with TONS of detail, try this one.

I happened to listen to The Romanov Prophecy last year on audio book, and it was really good. Something about narration by a good reader that makes the details whiz by. Plus, I love all stories about the Tsars. Also, I think this was Berry’s second (and much better) book. I’m off to read his other books…apparently, I’m a glutton for historical detail.