Husband dearest reviews:-
Mexico, 1935. Harrison Shepherd is working n the household of famed muralist Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo. Sometimes cook, sometimes secretary, Shepherd is always an observer, recording his experiences in diaries and notebooks. When exiled Bolshevik leader Lev Trosky arrives, Shepherd inadvertantly casts in his lot with art and revolution and his aim for an invisible life is thwarted forever.
"Dios les da el dinero a los ricos, poque si no lo tuvieran, se morrían de hambre"
Thus spake the blurb on the back of the book, another handed to me my beloved with request for review. I know it just a cunning attempt to get me to sit still a bit more. I was not intrigued, even by the information that it is an Orange Prize nominee, other than the mention of Trotsky, and my initial entry into the book was difficult. It took me over a week to attack the first 150 pages of the book, largely as it was unrecognisable in the terms of the blurb. The household does not appear until then, Trotsky 40 or so pages later and then he has the whole ice-pick thing a 100 pages later and is gone. In a book of 670 pages the introduction was turgid and the characters somewhat insipid for my liking. Frida is the first of them who aroused a smile within me, as she presents herself with swagger and unbounded freedom of expression.
“Everyone will say horse-shit smells like flowers,”she stated, “if they wanted to be popular with a horses’s ass”
Then it became a book for me and I must confess to having thoroughly engaged with the remainder of the book, indeed the rest of it was finished within a day. Trotsky becomes an inspiration for the young Harrison, even providing him with his first typewriter and the space to work in. The text is played as a journal of Harrisons life in effect narrated, but edited and published by the woman who he later engages as a stenographer (Violet), purportedly publishing 50 years after they are both dead. It runs through the 1930’s, the intrigues of Trotskys exile briefly, and the young mans departure to the United States, where he becomes a successful novelist, through to the McCarthy anti-communist purges post second world war, in which Harrison becomes involved. The addition of actual newspaper articles, sprinkled through the veritable witch hunt did not detract from the story at all but rather helped make the novel come alive for me and made me re-think a great deal about what this period in the USA did to its people. It works as an historical snapshot of America at this time. It works as a story of a young man growing through the political turmoils of the war, the politics of communism and developing a talent for writing. It works as a delightful mixture of colourful main characters and some even more colourful cameo characters (who could resist Parthenia Goins as a character name?), into an engaging and challenging read for anyone who likes their fiction tinged with the shades of real world events.
Parthenia – (Violets sister)
“We was all in our family borned with sense. But Violet be the only one to vex herself on wanting to be learned.”
As a reader primarily of fantasy and science fiction this is not an easy qualification for me to give to a book. But only after page 150. I wonder if this was in fact almost two books at some point which got stuck together into one, with the join being painfully too visible.
Other than that I would happily recommend a read.
The Lacuna was purchased from Book People.
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