I just finished reading The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver. I have long been a fan of Kingsolver's, and this novel did not disappoint. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, because in addition to entertaining and inspiring me, it also provides an opportunity for me to learn and to gain a different perspective on a piece of history.
In this case, the novel takes place in the 1930s in Mexico and 1940s/50s in the US. The novel is told through a series of journal entries, letters, and articles (some real, some created). The main character, Harrison Shepherd, is born to a Mexican mother and American father. He moves to Mexico with his mother as a boy, and he eventually works for Diego Rivera, befriends Rivera's wife, Frida Khalo, and serves as a typist/secretary to Leon (Lev) Trotsky. Through his eyes we get to know these real-life characters and witness the assassination of Trotsky. Harrison then moves to the US, where he settles down in the small town of Asheville, North Carolina. He becomes an author, and the introduction of his stenographer enlivens the book. During this time we get to see life in the US during the second World War, and the events leading up to the search for Communists and spies via the House Un-American Activities Committee.
It's an interesting book set in interesting times, and I very much enjoyed it. Kingsolver is a beautiful storyteller, and I enjoy her writing. Here is the NY Times review if you're interested in reading more.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Mexico 1933 -by Martin Munkács