Sunday, July 18, 2010
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
This hauntingly beautiful novel will stay with me. The story revolves around three characters - Helen, Darrow and Linh - whose lives are affected by the Vietnam War. Helen Adams is a photojournalist in Vietnam - one of the only women covering actual combat, recon, and rescue assignments. She comes to Vietnam as an idealistic college student, determined to make a name for herself, tell the story of the war - and discover the truth of her brother's death in country. She immediately attracts the attention of the male journalists in the region, and quickly falls into an affair with the grizzled but darkly charismatic war photographer Sam Darrow. As Helen starts to make her own way as a photographer in Vietnam, drawing as much attention for her gender as for her work, Darrow sends her his Vietnamese assistant, Linh, a reluctant soldier who deserted the SVA in the wake of his wife’s death. While Linh wants nothing more than to escape the war, Darrow and Helen are consumed by it, unable to leave until the inevitable tragedy strikes.
The strength of this novel is in Soli’s vivid, beautiful depiction of war-torn Vietnam, from the dangers of the field, where death can be a single step away, to the emptiness of the Saigon streets in the final days of the American evacuation. You will become as addicted to the life in Saigon and the thrill of action as the photographers who stay there long past when most think that they should leave. This book will pull you across the miles and the decades so you are walking the war torn streets of Vietnam.
Rating: 4.9 Highly Recommend