Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

This is a rare gem of a book from a female photojournalists view spanning the period from 1963 to 1975. Unlike so many other books written during this time period, this one gets deep and personal for a long period of time. Helen has lost her father and brother to war and goes to Vietnam as a young college drop out. She finds herself in the midst of war and experiences life on a deep level, bonding with soldiers, journalists, the Vietnamese people, and the land. Despite being historical fiction, this novel creates a very personal account of what it might have been like as a female photojournalist during the Vietnam war.

The author opens the book near the end of the time period, and then builds the story leading up to the opening. Near the middle the book falls flat, almost mimicking the way Helen feels about being home. But the novel comes to life again once Helen was back in Vietnam, much the way Helen felt as well.

Author Tatjana Soli does an excellent job of breathing life into the characters and especially Vietnam. Despite the war, Helen finds love, beauty, peace, and a life worth living. The final third of the book was the most engaging because by then most of the characters and situations were well developed. The ending is incredibly predictable, but after investing almost 400 pages of reading, I would not have wanted it to end any other way.

4.5 Stars


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