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The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

The Lotus Eaters (2010)

by Tatjana Soli

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9008714,714 (3.98)153

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Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Read this book. It is a beautifully told and haunting story; you have never seen Vietnam like this. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
I so wanted to love this book, and I think the writing is really good. But the characters are made of cardboard, and the plot is so predictable. So I felt kind of meh by the end. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Loved this book! A beautifully emotional and thought provoking story of a female American photographer in Vietnam during the war. She starts as a fairly naive and inexperienced chronicler of the tragedies of war, but along the way becomes a "brick in the wall", an impressive photographer, and one who seeks out the small instances of humanity in the horrific experience of the war. The personal relationships, the evolution of her reason for staying in Vietnam, and the gentle character development along with writing that integrates all of our senses into the experience make this a wonderful read. Everyone in my bookgroup loved it... some even thought it the best book in a long while. ( )
  asawyer | May 7, 2018 |
I'm not sure how to review this one. Helen is a photographer who is covering the war in Vietnam. She is present when Saigon falls and the reader is taken through her journey and time together, plus her feelings for a few different men with the war as a backdrop. One is a man who is married and is more interested in acclaim, the other is not who he necessarily claims to be. And we watch as they are ultimately changed by the events of the book and history.
As I said, it's a tough review. It's clear the author did her research. Even if the stories of the war, torture, killings, etc. are not true to history, they certainly drew me a portrait of Vietnam and I was compelled to read toward the end. And yet...sometimes I felt like the book had a lot of filler. It was difficult to care about Helen, Sam and Linh. I really dislike love stories that dominate the media I consume and I went back and forth on this one.
None of the characters are particularly likeable and I wasn't sure how or if we could interpret their decisions, intentions, etc. very well. I'm not sure if this is the part of the author or whether war and its affects played a very heavy impact on how the characters chose to act. If this had been about a woman photographer in Vietnam during the war, then this would have been fantastic. But I struggled with the amount of time we spent with Helen sorting out her feelings for both men (plus another at the start of the story). I realize that wartime love stories/relationships/friends with benefits/etc. type of situations are not at all unusual, but I disliked the amount of time spent on it.
It was also difficult to know what the plot was. The love story? Was Linh going to betray the journalists? Were we going to follow a particular battle? Was this going to follow Helen through the end of the war?
This is author Soli's debut novel and it was clear there was a LOT of potential. The descriptions of particular incidents, certain fights, conversations, etc. were compelling. The portrait of Vietnam was searing, detailed, sometimes excruciating to read. But the overall execution fell short, especially when books the skips back and forth with the "present" bookending the story.
It might make for a good airplane read. Historical fiction readers might enjoy it. I'd buy it as a bargain so you can leave it behind if you don't like it. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
I so wanted to love this book, and I think the writing is really good. But the characters are made of cardboard, and the plot is so predictable. So I felt kind of meh by the end. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (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.

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