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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.
This suspenseful, eloquent, sprawling novel illustrates the violence of the Vietnam War as witnessed by three interconnected photographers. Helen Adams, the first woman combat photographer sent to cover the Vietnam war, navigates the boys' club of war photographers, pushing her way onto military missions. Soon after her arrival in Saigon, she falls under the spell of seasoned, jaded, and married Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist, Sam Darrow, while also feeling a confusing pull toward his assistant, Linh, a Vietnamese ex-soldier and knowledgeable photographer and guide. Linh, who has lost his wife and entire family to the war, roams the country with Darrow and then Helen (whom Darrow asks Linh to protect). Soli looks at the complex motivations and ambitions of the waves of American photographers who descended on Vietnam seeking glory and fame through their gut-wrenching photos of mass graves, crippled children, and dying soldiers, while also reveling in sex, drugs, and good times as the war raged around them. This harrowing depiction of life and death shows that even as the country burned, love and hope triumphed.
The Lotus Eaters
With a pretty sounding title, the reference to Homers
Odyssey, to a self induced entrapment, is the only bucolic thing about this book. It is taut like razor wire, as it paces through scene after descriptive scene of Vietnam.
The promise of seeing Angkor Wat is a character in the story, though Helen never sees Angkor Wat. Helen falls in love w two men in this story, one is a Vietnamese! OK, I'm interested we're picturing him, and we know a love scene is coming near the end of the story. What a let down. The writer is very prudish and vague. That's what made me give this book a four. We could use some intimate details for Oriental / Caucasian lovemaking, most readers would have been quite curious.
Ok story, nothing spectacular.
Although I wanted to love this book not only for the title but for the general back-of-book synopsis… I didn’t. Nothing really pulled me into the novel. The characters were a bit under-developed, and the story led to nowhere fast. Good start to a story idea that could have taken greater heights.
The Lotus Eaters
NO. Don't buy this book, it drags through every scene, and there's a general air of deppression and dreary grayness in every word. I couldn't stand to read the whole thing, and I seriously regret wasting my money on this book. THe worst thing about it is that it's LONG. I believe it's about 1100 pages, more I think.