It's happened again--I'm reading along, traveling vicariously to another part of the world, then zing! I'm back home faster than Dorothy clicking her slippered heels. It happened a few years ago when I read Steve Berry's The Romanov Prophecy (beware of spoiler!) when the title character moved from the former Soviet Union to San Francisco then Richmond then Boone, NC.
Now I've just finished Barbara Kingsolver's latest novel Lacuna, and after spending half the book in Mexico City with Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Lev Trotsky, the protagonist Harrison Shepherd ends up, of all places, in Asheville, NC, living on Montford Ave. I forget who said it--I think Richard Peck, the YA novelist, that we all read fiction for a sense of recogniton. I know I do.
Lacuna was a bit of a slow start for me. Anyone who reads Kingsolver's novels--and I've read them all--knows she gives lots of detail--places, colors, plants, food. It all fits in the end, but you have to read through it. This book is told through journals, letters, clippings from the newspaper, and it is, in the end, a satisfying tale.
The protagonist is a young man, a writer, who keeps himself out of the spotlight in his own stories. As a result, I found his secretary Violet Brown the most engaging character of the novel. She is a no-nonsense woman, widowed young, empathetic and wise. She's the one I missed most at the end. I will try to catch a glimpse of her or the home she inherited from Shepherd the next time I visit Asheville.