Monday, 7 December 2009

The Lacuna

Slightly frustrating when you pay £14.99 for a book, struggle to page 150 before realising you really don't care that much about the central character or his mother or anyone else in the novel and shove it back on your shelf with a vague plan of returning to it someday (knowing you never will). But that's the chance you take with fiction.

The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favourite novels and I was hoping The Lacuna would work some of the same magic. Set in Mexico in the early part of the twentieth century it is a coming of age story and combines fictional characters with historical characters of the era, for example, the artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I don't think it works. Barbara Kingsolver is a wonderful writer but this novel struck me as over-researched.

However, I'm reading Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz right now. It is so good I've been reading into the early hours and suffering for it the next day as articulated in this blog post by Louise Erdrich. 'Severe maternal inertia' indeed!

13 comments:

claire said...

So sorry to hear about The Lacuna. What a disappointment. To have Kahlo and Rivera in it.

Book Psmith said...

Poisonwood Bible is also one of my favorite novels and I was thinking about this one but will probably pick it up from the library just in case it doesn't click. The UK cover is absolutely beautiful and I much prefer it to the US one.

verity said...

What a disappointment. I've been looking forward to this as I am a big Kingsolver fan, but at the same time like Book Psmith says, I'm not sure whether it will click or not.

Rachel (Book Snob) said...

Oh, what a shame. I hate it when that happens. I had the same experience with A S Byatt - loved Possession, forked out for The Children's Book, and didn't get on with it at all. It's strange how varying an author's canon can be. I hope you'll be able to go back to it one day. It does have a beautiful cover to grace your shelf with at least!

Karen said...

I am reading this one at the moment and I am having a bit of a love/hate relationship with it! It is starting to pick up for me though so hopefully I will keep enjoying it. Sorry you found it disappointing though!

Tara said...

I love the cover of your copy!

This was suggested as a choice for my book club but I did not vote for it and it was not chosen and I have to say I am glad. I am just not interested in the subject matter and the reviews have been so mixed. It's too bad, because I've loved other Kingsolver books.

Vintage Reading said...

Claire, yes, it should have been brilliant but wasn't.

Book Psmith and Verity, I'd hate to put Kingsolver fans off of this book. Just didn't work for me. The cover is stunning, though.

Rachel, I abandoned Possession, too! So did the rest of my book group.

Karen, look forward to your review. Glad you are getting on better than I did.

Tara, yes, I love the cover. I've read other Kingsolver novels and quite liked them, but the only one that I really love is The Poisonwood Bible.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

I feel like I am having a year where I keep discovering something I should love, just is not working for me. I can hardly count the number of books that I've read 50 or a hundred pages and then put down. Very frustrating when a book doesn't measure up to expectations.

Ravenous Reader said...

I had the same experience with this novel. I thought maybe it was just me.

I've read some of Kingsolver's interviews about the extensive research she did for this book, and I rather felt she let the reserach overpower the story in this one.

Becky Holmes said...

I use the library to avoid this frustration. No money wasted that way. I'm disappointed you didn't like this. I was hoping it would be as good as some of her earlier work, like Poisonwood Bible, which I loved.

Vintage Reading said...

Linda, I used to strugge to read novels that weren't doing it for me right to the bitter end but I've decided that life is to short and it's the author's fault for not holding my attention!!

Ravenous Reader, yes, The Lacuna was waaaaay too research-y!

Becky, I loved The Poisonwood Bible so much and I wanted to like this. I must admit I don't use the library a great deal. While I'm working I like to purchase books and support the writers and the publishing industry. Obviously, when I retire I won't be able to afford too, but I'll probably have a good collection by then!

Brook Stableford said...

Barbara Kingsolver is speaking at a writers' conference Mexico in February 2010. Does anyone know anything about it? Someone mentioned in a reading group that she is going to speak and lead workshops at a conference. Does anyone know anything about it? Thanks. I want to go!

Samantha said...

Oh no and I have a copy of this one one in the tbr piles as well. Such a beautiful cover and all ... maybe that might be its only consolation ;-)