Reading Recommendations: The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver.
Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional house- holds in Mexico, from a coastal island jungle in 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 good will 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. Though 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.
Kingsolver is the author of seven works of fiction, one of which is, The Poisonwood Bible, and elaborate picture of spirituality, calamity, struggle, and redemption. It stands that The Lacuna will follow the success of The Poisonwood Bible.
The Road to Jerusalem, Book One of The Crusades Trilogy, Jan Guillou
Born in 1150 to a noble family in the Kingdom of Western Gotaland, young Arn Magnusson is marked early on by a miraculous and fateful event. When the boy inexplicably recovers after falling from the parapet of his ancestral home, his mother finds herself beholden to a promise made in a moment of prayer. Arn, second born son of Magnus Folkesson, will live his life in the service of God, sent from his family to do holy work and to prepare for a position in the priory.
At Varnhem monastery, Arn comes of age under the tutelage of Father Henri, a Cistercian monk devoted to his aristocratic pupils education. However grammar, math and logic are not the only lessons: Brother Guilbert, the monastery blacksmith and former Knight Templer, finds Arn adept at training of a very different kind. Observing the boys extraordinary talent with horse, sward, and bow, Father Henri, trusting in God's will sends his charge into the world to fulfill a destiny that lies beyond the cloister walls.
Returning home, Arn finds his monastic habits at odds with his clans old and tested ways. Yet his family soon discovers that Arn has learned more than poetry and farm work and he proves himself useful at a time when he is needed most. The murder of a king has brought Western Gotaland into a whirlwind of intrigue and cunning lords from East and West are vying for power. And, when Arn meets the lovely Cecilia, he discovers this new and dangerous world holds other surprises too. Before he can claim her hand, however, the head strong and naive noble makes a fateful mistake that will wrench him from his love and send him to a foreign war, to the Holy Land to battle infidels for twenty years.
From the frozen landscapes of Northern Europe to the bloody battle fields of the Middle East, Arn will face brave knights, powerful queens, and treacherous kings.
See you at Rylander!