The central character in this
book is the son of a US bureaucrat and a Mexican woman. He
lives in both countries growing up, and in Mexico city ends up
working for Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida Kahlo; and their
houseguest, Leon Trotsky. Later he becomes a best-selling
novelist and is hounded by the House Committee on Un-American
For some reason, the reviews I read of it are lukewarm, but
since I’m both a Barbara Kingsolver fan and interested in those
characters, I read it anyway. I think the reviews are what
always happens when someone is famous — it’s easier to say the
book is a falling-off from earlier work than to really describe
how good it is, so they say it’s a falling-off.
I wouldn’t recommend it as the place to start if you haven’t
read Barbara Kingsolver before. That would be
Summer if you like novels,
Vegetable, Miracle if you prefer nonfiction and are interested in eating local,
non-industrial foods. Both of these books are set in the
Appalachian south where Kingsolver grew up.
But I thought it was certainly up to the standard of The
Poisonwood Bible, also about a disfunctional family
in an unfamiliar setting.