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The Lotus Eaters: A Novel by Tatjana Soli
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The Lotus Eaters: A Novel (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Tatjana Soli

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7697912,029 (3.98)144
Member:sagustocox
Title:The Lotus Eaters: A Novel
Authors:Tatjana Soli
Info:St. Martin's Press (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli (2010)

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I had such high hopes for this book. Basically it’s the story of a young woman combat photographer in Vietnam towards the end of the war, Helen Adams, and the two men she loves – Sam Darrow (a seasoned photographer who has a reputation), and Linh (the Vietnamese man who is Darrow’s and then Helen’s assistant).

I didn’t find anything about the relationships believable. I didn’t feel the passion or tenderness or compassion or love between any of them. The mark of good writing is that the author will show, not tell; Soli tells the reader over and over that these people love one another, but she doesn’t show us this. In fact, she shows us the opposite. Each of them seems closed off emotionally from anyone else; each follows his/her own agenda without regard to the feelings of anyone else; each of them behaves poorly (to say the least) in relation to the others. I thought they took foolish chances and I really didn’t care what happened to any of them; I just wanted it to be over with so I could get on with another book.

So why did I give it 2 stars? Soli includes a long bibliography of works she used to research Vietnam and Southeast Asia during the time period portrayed in the book. I don’t know if she ever actually visited the country, but if she has not, then kudos to her for managing to convey such a sense of the atmosphere of the place. I could smell the tropical jungle, feel the torpidity brought on by heat and fatigue, and hear the din of traffic and busy city streets. I give her 2 stars for creating this atmosphere, but I really don’t recommend the book.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
I think this is the first time I have read a novel that takes place in Vietnam during the war. It is the story of a female news photographer who initially goes to Southeast Asia in an attempt to find out more about and understand her brother's death in the early days of US involvement in Vietnam. She ends up staying for many years, even past the famous helicopter evacuation from the roof of the American embassy. Her character is well developed over the course of the book and the reader witnesses her growing understanding of what is happening in Vietnam. I am not sure I would call this an anti-war novel, but it comes close. You see the conflicts experienced by South Vietnamese who, while supporting the US troops, also see what is happening to their country. You see the misery of the rural villagers whose homes and fields are destroyed because of suspected Viet Cong activity. You also see the deaths of many innocent Vetnamese and how it was covered up with words like "necessay" and "unavoidable." You see the horrors experienced by all involved and see PTSD before the term was even invented. Not an uplifing book, but worthy of a 3.5 at least. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
I listened to the Audible version of this book, and was carried in my mind's eye to Vietnam during the Vietnam war. The entire story pulled me in, entrancing, believable, very emotional, fully historical and accurate. I highly recommend it! ( )
  Graceenough | Jul 12, 2015 |
Story about the last days of America in Vietnam, told from the perspective of a female war correspondent. Details the life of both her male mentor, and her Vietnam guide. Hard to read at times, but gave a good understanding of the risks a war correspondent is exposed to. ( )
  Pmaurer | Apr 30, 2015 |
The tragedy of the Vietnam War never ceases to stagger--this novel spans ten years, flashing back from the American surrender of Saigon in April 1975 to explore the intertwined fates of two Americans and their Vietnamese interpreter. Comprising a romantic triangle are Sam Darrow, a glamorous, jaded, 40ish photographer; Helen Adams, an aspiring neophyte photographer in her early twenties when she arrives to cover the war; and Linh, the son of intelligentsia from the North, whose initial goal is to cease being a soldier. I almost didn't read this book. After browsing through the first few chapters, I was initially doubtful that it would be worth the effort, but I am glad that I kept going. This is such a visceral work: there are constant references to the heat, the smells, the rain, the mud, the colors. The characters' role as members of the press is to try to bear witness to the violent, unpredictable consequences of the war as observers, not participants. Naturally, this is an impossible proposition--they are all both victims of and active protagonists within the conflict. There are no answers here, but a beautifully written evocation of the simultaneously horrific and spellbinding realities of the war. ( )
  LizHD | Mar 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
Tatjana Soli’s haunting debut novel begins where it ought to end. In this quietly mesmerizing book about journalists covering the war in Vietnam, the first glimpses of the place are the most familiar. The year is 1975. Americans are in a state of panic as North Vietnamese forces prepare to occupy Saigon. The looters, the desperate efforts to escape this war zone, the mobs surrounding the United States Embassy, the overcrowded helicopters struggling to rise above the chaos: these images seem to introduce Ms. Soli’s readers to a story they already know.
 
"An impressive debut novel about a female photographer covering the Vietnam War...A visceral story about the powerful and complex bonds that war creates. It raises profound questions about professional and personal lives that are based on, and often dependent on, a nation’s horrific strife. Graphic but never gratuitous, the gripping, haunting narrative explores the complexity of violence, foreignness, even betrayal. Moving and memorable." —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
added by TatjanaSoli | editKirkus (Feb 1, 2010)
 
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For my mom,

who taught me about

brave girls crossing oceans
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The city teetered in a dream state.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312611579, Hardcover)

A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men. 

On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country she has come to love. Linh, the Vietnamese man who loves her, must grapple with his own conflicted loyalties of heart and homeland. As they race to leave, they play out a drama of devotion and betrayal that spins them back through twelve war-torn years, beginning in the splendor of Angkor Wat, with their mentor, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, once Helen's infuriating love and fiercest competitor, and Linh's secret keeper, boss and truest friend.

Tatjana Soli paints a searing portrait of an American woman’s struggle and triumph in Vietnam, a stirring canvas contrasting the wrenching horror of war and the treacherous narcotic of obsession with the redemptive power of love. Readers will be transfixed by this stunning novel of passion, duty and ambition among the ruins of war.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A novel that follows an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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