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Extended Audio Sample The Lacuna: A Novel Audiobook, by Barbara Kingsolver Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (26,888 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Barbara Kingsolver Narrator: Barbara Kingsolver Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2009 ISBN: 9780061967139
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From the Mexico City of Frida Kahlo to the America of J. Edgar Hoover, The Lacuna tells the poignant story of a man pulled between two nations.

Born in the United States, but reared in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers and, one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed muralist Diego Rivera. When he goes to work for Rivera, his wife, exotic artist Kahlo, and exiled leader Lev Trotsky, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution.

Meanwhile, the United States has embraced the internationalist goodwill of World War II. Back in the land of his birth, Shepherd seeks to remake himself in America’s hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. But political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Breathtaking…dazzling…The Lacuna can be enjoyed sheerly for the music of its passages on nature, archaeology, food and friendship; or for its portraits of real and invented people; or for its harmonious choir of voices. But the fuller value of Kingsolver’s novel lies in its call to conscience and connection. She has mined Shepherd’s richly imagined history to create a tableau vivant of epochs and people that time has transformed almost past recognition. Yet it’s a tableau vivant whose story line resonates in the present day, albeit with different players. Through Shepherd’s resurrected notebooks, Kingsolver gives voice to truths whose teller could express them only in silence.”

    New York Times

  • “Compelling…Kingsolver’s descriptions of life in Mexico City burst with sensory detail—thick sweet breads, vividly painted walls, the lovely white feet of an unattainable love.”

    New Yorker

  • “This rich novel is certainly bigger than its politics. It resurrects several dramatic events of the early twentieth century that have fallen out of public consciousness, brings alive the forgotten details of everyday life in the 1940s, and illustrates how attitudes and prejudices are shaped by political opportunism and the rapacious media. But despite this large, colorful canvas, ultimately The Lacuna is a tender story about a thoughtful man who just wanted to enjoy that basic American right: the right to be left alone.”

    Washington Post

  • “Ambitious…achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee…[Kingsolver] masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • A 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2010 Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Shortlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eric | 2/19/2014

    " Everything about this book -- Kingsolver and her reputation, the 500+ page weightiness of the novel, the epic scope of the narrative and the vast research involved, etc. -- suggests the "great American novel." For whatever reason, though, The Lacuna didn't capture my imagination as I thought it would, and I ended up feeling my interest in the novel was as discontinuous as its narrative form (and typically I'm a sucker for the epistolary/diary-like format that predominates in this one). It may be because my attention wavered too much over a rather protracted reading period, or it may be that in Kingsolver's historical fiction the former term seems to dominate the latter so much that I never quite warmed to Harrison Shepherd the way I should have in a novel with this kind of density. Still, the scenes in Mexico resonate and the novel's preoccupations communicate interestingly with our post-9/11 political landscape and our current immigration debates, and I sense that if I read the novel again in other circumstances it all might come up differently. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alisa Miller | 2/11/2014

    " This is pure Barbara Kingsolver. She manages to merge society, nature, and history in such a way that while getting lost in the plot, the reader suddenly remembers that some of the characters actually existed in real life. A joyous ride through the Mexican countryside--and beyond. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marsha | 2/3/2014

    " Wow! I'm only giving it 4 stars because it was difficult to read, but it should get 5 stars for being thought-provoking. Makes me feel naive to have thought the world is in more of a mess than ever today. It's always been in a mess. Is it destined to stay that way? I hope not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pat Holliday | 2/3/2014

    " I loved it. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver opened new doors for me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Josephine | 1/21/2014

    " I didn't like this book. I was disappointed with the style. I loved the Poisonwood Bible. I didn't like the diary style it was written in. There was no depth to it. It was boring. I can not recommend this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linn | 1/12/2014

    " Not my favorite of Barbara Kingsolver's books. Seemed so fresh at the beginning, but dragged at the end. Of course, the main character's life got progressively more stagnant and sad, so a dragging feelings is also appropriate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janet S | 1/11/2014

    " Interesting book, but somewhat boring in parts. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 1/11/2014

    " I liked Poisonwood Bible, so I thought I would try this one. There just wasn't enough there to keep me going. I only made it about 1/3 of the way through and I kept forgetting I was reading it. Bad sign. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alison Topper | 1/10/2014

    " Barbara Kingsolver - great author. Well done, amazing plot twist at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Morgan | 12/29/2013

    " Really boring at first but worth it at the end. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cheryl | 12/17/2013

    " I didn't like it so I'm putting it down. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tegan | 10/4/2013

    " I figured I would adore this book, since Barbara Kingsolver is my favorite author. But honestly, I just found it boring. I only read about half of it before giving up. it was well written; I just didn't care about the characters and didn't find the story very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noelle | 6/24/2013

    " I didn't have a lot of time, so it took me a while to read it. I ended up loving this book. She is one of my favorite authors. It's such a good story and even though it is fiction, it has real people from history in it and it was an incredible story. I've got to re-read her other books now! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betty Garcia | 6/20/2013

    " A well-written story set in Mexico and in South Carolina that gives insight to the life, art and politics of Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo,and much more, through the eyes of a young boy turned author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen Elliott | 5/10/2013

    " History woven into fiction. A fascinating story about some vibrant characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elisa Reed | 4/13/2013

    " I love Barbara Kingsolver, but honestly this only receives two stars because she is wonderful writer. I couldn't even finish this one and that's rare for me. I couldn't engage with the characters and ultimately gave up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Loudenslager | 1/18/2013

    " Barbara Kingsolver never lets me down with her writing. This book is one to savor and enjoy, especially if you like historical novels. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jacinta Sheridan | 12/29/2012

    " Hated this. Very disappointed after all the Kingsolver books I've enjoyed. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lynn | 12/17/2012

    " DNF: I know I'm in the minority here, but even with Kingsolver's considerable talent, this just had no charm through part 3 on audio (no idea how many pages that would be, my guess is thousands...) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Armando | 10/26/2012

    " great historical fiction book. the book follows the life of HARRISON SHEPHERD, who becomes friend with Frida Kahlo, and then becomes a writer in the United States. the way the story is writen is great "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heidi | 7/20/2012

    " if I had been reading this I am not sure I would have finished. but listening to Barbara kingsolver read her book was enjoyable. the last part really showed the ridiculous but frightening times of the mccarthy era. what is especially scares me is that we seem to be headed that way again. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 John | 7/10/2012

    " Not nearlly as good as her previous works that I have read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 6/3/2012

    " My 2nd favorite book of Barbara Kingsolver, following The Poisonwood Bible. It had a little bit of a lot of things....History of Mexico, Freida & Diego, Trotsky, an absent father and a boy who grows up in the midst of all of these things. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peta Freedman | 11/25/2011

    " I'd highly recommend The Lacuna. It's the sort of book that sends you to the encyclopaedia afterwards to look up the real life characters, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky. Will Shepherd is a sympathetic character and I got very involved in his life and cared what happened to him. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Paul Miller | 9/6/2011

    " I'm just glad I finally finished it. This is joyless and I had no affinity with any of the characters. The MacCarthy era section was OK but the rest was dreary and unstructured. Seems you either love this or hate it - guess which camp I'm in "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Stephanie | 6/27/2011

    " Kind of boring. Only made it to page 78 and then gave up. I loved The Poisonwood Bible and I love Frida Kahlo, and magical/mystical stories, but this was not keeping my attention. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate | 6/24/2011

    " Halfway through this long book. I've just seen an exhibition of the two Mexican artists and that really made it all feel more personal. Barbara has a light touch
    "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amelia | 6/22/2011

    "
    I don't find it as rewarding as The Poisonwood Bible. However, I'm going to persevere for a few more chapters! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 6/20/2011

    " Harrison Shepard I am going to miss you. A beautifully written story of a boy growing up and how innocent jobs taken to survive leads to life lived under the watchful eye of the FBI and the United States Congress. A great way to learn history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 6/20/2011

    " Not your typical Barbara Kingsolver, (although I also like your typical Barbara Kingsolver). Interesting Character study. Set in the heyday of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. "

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About the Author
Author Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver’s twelve books of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction include the novels The Bean Trees and The Poisonwood Bible. Translated into nineteen languages, her work has won a devoted worldwide readership and many awards, including the National Humanities Medal.