Kingsolver has a genuine gift for finding and exploring the humanity of such iconic figures, as exemplified by this poetic, evocative paragraph describing Trotsky's wife Natalya:
Perpetua has walked down the street twice this week, to deliver some pottery Natalya liked especially. Her favorite is the white glazed platter with a fish leaping over it, a gift from Frida when they first arrived. Natalya thanked Perpetua and put it away in a cabinet, but today she has brought it out and set it against the wall. In the years with Lev her world has been so constrained, with so few objects of beauty in it. She is not a bulldog, only a woman pressed into the shape of a small jar, possibly attempting to dance in there. It shows in the way she places a seashell on a window sill, a red-painted chair in a corner: she is practiced in the art of creating a still life and taking up residence inside it.