Apr 26, 2010

The Lotus Eaters, Book Review

The Lotus Eaters

by Tatjana Soli, St. Martin's Press
A female photographer went to VietNam in '63 with unclear purpose. A brother had died in service there, maybe she wanted closure or understanding. She was new to photo journalism, maybe it was a career move. She was young. She was green. She was American. The next 12 years redefined her.
The first couple of chapters were confusing, but I was unstoppably hooked by chapter 3. Chapter 1 starts out with the NVA's invasion of Saigon, April of '75, after our characters had been there many years, found safety in the city and come to love the people. We are thrown into the scene at eye level, street-side, on a personal level, not a military level. We are immediately thrown into the physical struggle to survive and the emotional struggle of human interaction & relationships.
Chapter 2 goes back to the beginning, back to '63 when we get the backstory for our supporting character. "Once there was a soldier named Linh who did not want to go back to war." Poor Linh. He's a mellow wall-flower type of guy, "a lackluster soldier," always the supporting actor. At 26 he had joined the NVA, then escaped to South Vietnam where he ends up working with our photojournalists who are never quite sure if he's a spy or not, but they do know he would lay down his life for them.
This is not a historical war novel, this is a portrait of humankind & the psychology of relationships. It's a book about survival on a variety of levels, it's an expose' of the soul.
The Lotus Eaters:
  • explores the reasons we love
  • exposes what motivates humankind
  • touches hidden longings in all of us

I'm not reviewing this book for the publisher, I simply checked it out of the library, loved it and wanted to pass it on. Hope you enjoy it.

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