Tag Archives: Barbara Kingsolver

Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver

Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver

I always like Barbara Kingsolver novels (here’s my thoughts on Unsheltered), so I was very keen to read this, and then a dear friend told me how much she loved it and I moved it straight to the top of the pile.

Here’s the blurb …

“Anyone will tell you the born of this world are marked from the get-out, win or lose.”

Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, this is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.

I haven’t read David Copperfield, I have seen this adaptation though, so I can’t comment on how close it is to Dickens or on any clever literary conversation that might be happening between the two novels.

I loved it, her writing is superb. It is written in the voice of Demon and it is a very compelling voice. I wanted to hear his story and to know how it ended. It is confronting at times, there is so much poverty, neglect and substance abuse, but it is worth persevering.

I have been telling everyone to read it.

A review

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The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver


I received this novel as a Christmas gift. I’m a keen Kingsolver fan so I did suggest it as a present idea.

From the publisher …

In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.

Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America’s hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.

With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.

I found this novel slow going at first and I stopped reading it a couple of times and moved onto something else. However, by the end I was captured. This novel contains an abundance of information about Mexico, Communism and America during the ‘reds under the beds’ debacle. This book is beautifully written and contains an enormous amount of research. I found the characters compelling, in particular Violet Brown. Not being at all familiar with American history (or Mexican) I enjoyed the social history aspects of this novel.

Here are some other reviews …





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