A blog of endless curiosity
Harrison Shepherd is an avid diary keeper – his experiences of the world are reflective of his personality in the most intimate ways. A shy and withdrawn man, he is party to some very key moments in the world’s history. Though he considers himself unimportant, it is through his eye in his diaries that the reader gains fascinating and voyeuristic insight into the lives of some of the big movers on the world stage in the 40s. Not quite belonging to the home of his mother, Mexico, or his father in the US, Shepherd explores himself through his diarizing and letter writing. He becomes caught up in the tempestuous life of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, working as their chef. I loved the descriptions of these people who I feel I already know well through my own Frida Kahlo obsession and historical documents. Kingsolver has done a difficult thing in tackling their inner lives, but has pulled it off with aplomb, making me even fonder, though perhaps more objective about Frida, Diego and Leon Trotsky (who arrives seeking political asylum and stays with the Riveras).
When later Harrison becomes a famous American author, he finds out how difficult it is to be in the public eye, especially during the height of the cold-war and with a history as suspicious as his. This is a wonderful, gentle book, that illuminates the differences between self-identity and public perception.