Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Published by: HarperCollins Books (2009)
Harrison W. Shepherd is a half-breed of American (gringo) and Mexican. His mother left his American father in the 1920’s and moved to Mexico where they lived with one of her rich suitors. Soon after they left and lived with “Mr. Produce the Cash” as Harrison called him. Somewhere along the way, he meets Frida Kahlo, works for Diego Rivera, and Leon Trotsky where he is embroiled in their Communist Revolution involuntarily, working as their secretary and cook.
When Leon Trotsky is assassinated, he moves back to the states, where he learns his father left him a sweet ride and makes his living as a writer. The United States is caught up in World War II when he publishes two books to great success. With the anti-Communism rampant, his past comes back to haunt him when he is visited by the government, who questions his Americanism.
This novel was poignant andnlyrically written. The historical elements reminded me of my social studies classes in junior high school except this book made history enticing, exciting, and interesting. There are so many beautifully written passages in this novel. Below are only a few quotes (there were many) that stood out to me:
“Every place the light touches his skin, he is a statue of marble…the dizziness was there already. Dizziness and ache. From seeing everything the moon was allowed to touch.”
“They struggle with conjugating their shoes and stockings.”
“Life proceeds, it enrages. The untouched ones spend their luck without a thought, believing they deserve it.”
Reading historical fiction is a new experience for me and one that I hope to keep reliving. Barbara Kingsolver’s writing was spot on; her Mexican dialect was impeccable and the story not only displayed her creativity but also the research conducted made this tale authentic. She did an amazing job and I look forward to reading more of her work.