The Lacuna is Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel since her 1998 highly acclaimed, best-selling, Oprah-annoited book, The Poisonwood Bible. Fans looking forward to the new title may have been disappointed by Maureen Corrigan’s review on NPR’s Fresh Air. Damning the book with faint praise, she calls it just “so-so”;

…[the main character], Harrison is so pallid, so retiring that it’s very hard to stay for extended periods in his company, and seeing history unfold from his wan point of view isn’t all that illuminating.

I admit it: I’m mystified… [it] that feels altogether vacant.

Equally so-so is the review in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, which says that the book “never quite comes together…the plot grows muddy — and worse, a bit predictable.” Curiously, it still gets a B (is EW suffering from grade-creep?)

Other opinions have been decidedly different. People gave it 4 of a 4 possible stars, saying Kingsolver delivers “her signature blend of exotic locale, political backdrop and immediately engaging story line.”

In the UK, the Independent‘s reviewer loved the book so much that she swapped her bike for public transportation, so she could read it during her commute.

The Lacuna is one of the 10 titles in the Wal-Mart/Amazon/Target price wars; pre-ordered copies were priced at $8.98. The Lacuna is one three of the titles released on Tuesday and, as the AP reports, prices on those titles have since “moved up and down like stock market shares.”

Currently, The Lacuna is at #6 on Amazon’s sales rankings, where it’s now selling for $13.49 and #15 at, where it’s selling for $13.52. Large libraries are showing holds ratios ranging from 3:1 to 7:1.

The Lacuna: A Novel
Barbara Kingsolver
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2009-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0060852577 / 9780060852573

HarperAudio; 9780060853563; $44.99
HarperLuxe; 780061927560; pbk; $26.99
Audio and eBook downloadable from OverDrive

2 Responses to “THE LACUNA”

  1. Ron Charles Says:

    It’s true. LACUNA is hard to recommend with much enthusiasm. Despite its historical heft and often lovely writing, it can feel like homework. I’ll be interested to see what kind of staying power it has on the bestseller list. Very serious book clubs might keep it alive — but only a small subset of Kingsolver’s usual audience will love this one.

  2. Erin MacFarlane Says:

    Don’t forget about Prodigal Summer in 2002. Not as huge, but I liked it better.