When Barbara Kingslover’s book Lacuna came out, it was her first in 9 years. With the story of Harrison she takes us through history. Harrison meets icons on both sides of the borders. The attached video shows you the real Frida and Diego at their home.
Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for The Lacuna:
1. What does Shepherd mean when he says, “The most important part of the story is the piece of it you don’t know.” And how does this oft stated remark relate to the book’s title?
2. What is the significance of the book’s title? What does it mean within the context of the novel?
3. Do Shepherd’s diaries feel realistic to you? Does he sound like a 12-year old at the beginning…and later a mature man?
4. What prompts Harrison to begin his journals? Why does he write? What does he mean by referring to his notebook as “prisoner’s plan for escape”?
5. Describe Shepherd, first as a 12-year-old and, later, as a mature adult. What kind of character is he? How does he change over the course of the novel?
6. How about Shepherd’s mother? In what way does her profligate life affect how Shepherd decides to lead his own life?
7. Describe the Riviera/Kahlo household. How does Shepherd see Riviera’s influence over Kahlo? Have you seen the movie Frieda? If so, does that film influence your reading of The Lacuana?
8. How does Kingsolver portray Leon Trotsky in this work? Were you aware of his background and the history of the Russian Revolution before you read the novel? If so, did your prior knowledge color your reading—or did your reading affect your knowledge?
9. Do you find the second-half of the novel, in the US, evocative of a time and place that no longer exists? If so, is that a good or bad thing? If not, what has remained the same? How does Kingsolver present those years?
10. What is Shepherd’s relationship with his secretary, Violet Brown? What kind of character is she? Why does she want to preserve Shepherd’s memory?
11. What role do the media play in this novel? Is it a fair or realistic portrait? What are the benefits of fame…and what are its costs?
12. Does this book enlighten you about the era of the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings? Or do you feel this ground has been well tread by many others?