Review: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

The Lotus Eaters

Tatjana Soli

389 pages

Publication Year: 2010

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Source: Publisher

When readers first met American photographer Helen Adams, it’s Vietnam 1975. Adams and her lover, Linh are fleeing Saigon. As they make their way through the city to the American embassy, chaos is all around them. They’re not the only ones fleeing. After making it to the embassy, Helen makes a sudden decision though it may be one that kills her. Before readers can find out what happens, we need to understand Helen’s decision.

Readers are transported twelve years before when Helen arrives in Vietnam as an amateur photographer. Haunted by the death of her younger brother Michael who died the year before in Vietnam, Helen wants to know what the country is like and why are Americans there. She wants to become famous, proving something to herself and those she left behind back home. In her words, “failure is not an option”. Placed in combat zones, Helen thrives with her photos making the cover of magazines all over the world. Falling in love with famed photographer Sam Durrow changes things.

The Lotus Eaters is the debut novel from writer Tatjana Soli but once you read it, you wouldn’t think it was. The characters are believable, there’s a ton of passages you are going to want to underline or note for their beauty, and the setting. . . The setting is so realistic you’ll think you were in Vietnam.

Helen is a great character to follow. She’s filled with doubts about whether or not her photography can help change things, whether she’s becoming the person she wants to be, and her relationship with Darrow then Linh.

Looking around, she wondered how she had gotten there, why she needed this. Such a cliché to expose the war, or even wanting to test oneself against it. Whatever else, the place was a magnet for evil, or had they, Americans, brought it with them, like European colonists brought pox in their blankets to the New World? Nothing she would do, including photographs, could have any effect on it. Such a nunnish urge to find purpose or clarity or even to bring ease. Since she had arrived, she had merely been running from illusion to illusion-by turns obsessed, deluded, needy, full of herself, thinking she had achieved some small understand. . . but not she was simply lonely and tired and confused.

There’s so much that’s explored in this 300+ paged book. Our treatment of one another, the psychological, emotionally, and physical cost of war of those affected by it, cultural differences, grief, and obsession.

The Lotus Eaters is a book that I highly recommend.


About Vasilly

Mother, daughter, sister, college student, bookworm, lover of chocolate and coffee.
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20 Responses to Review: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

  1. bermudaonion says:

    I can’t wait to read this one – it sounds fabulous!

  2. Care says:

    I have seen a lot of this book around blogland and yet I didnt’ know what it was about. Thanks for the quick recap and sharing your thoughts.

  3. Florinda says:

    I was very impressed with this novel. It’s hard to believe it’s her first! You’re right – there’s a lot to it. The author made me feel as if I were there, and Helen is an intriguing and unusual character.

  4. Doret says:

    I may have to check this one out. I’ve only heard great things about it.

  5. Bellezza says:

    I keep seeing this one every where, from Costco (go figure!) to Barnes and Noble, not to mention blogs. I had initally turned away from it when I heard the word Vietnam, being born in the 60’s and all that trauma, but perhaps I’ll pick it up. It certainly seems worthy by your last few sentences.

  6. Marie says:

    I’m glad to hear you liked this. I’ve seen it around a lot and been tempted to pick it up. I love the title- so intriguing!

  7. iliana says:

    Wonderful review Vasilly! This is on my list. I keep seeing so many good reviews for this. I want it now!

  8. Gavin says:

    I’m so glad you liked this one. It is sitting on my TBR pile for later in the month!

  9. Carrie K. says:

    Yay – it makes me so happy that you loved this one, too. 🙂

  10. Nicole says:

    This was such a good book. I really liked Helen, and would never have believed this was a first novel. Looking forward to what she does next.

  11. zibilee says:

    I just finished this one and wrote m review yesterday. It was such a powerful and evocative read for me, and for the last few pages, I was holding my breath waiting to see what would happen. It’s actually really cool that I got the chance to read this, because I am joining Sandy Nawrot’s book club and this is their selection for the month of January. The club is going to get the chance to speak live to the author during the meeting, and I am just so excited about that! I am going to have to think of some good questions for her! Great review, I am glad you loved this one like I did!

  12. Wallace says:

    I’ve actually never glanced twice at this book because I don’t usually pick up books about wars, but now I’m intrigued.

  13. Frances says:

    Recently received a copy that I will be reading this month. Who can resist with so much love out there for the book? Glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well.

  14. Eva says:

    And on to the TBR list it goes! 🙂

  15. toothy says:

    glad you liked this one! i heard so many great things about it. i’m going to add it to my wishlist. i’m surprised to see that it’s a debut novel! from all of the things i heard about it, i thought she was a well published author.

  16. Kathleen says:

    This one sounds so good and I do love books set during this period in our history. It sounds like it would make a great movie too!

  17. Wonderful review, I also thought this book was fantastic. My review (and giveaway) are here:

  18. This looks fabulous! I am definitely going to look for it. Thanks for posting!

  19. Lisa Munley says:

    Sorry for the belated comment but just want to say thank you for the review and being on the tour. I read the book recently and it was intense! Your review is terrific. Thanks again!

  20. Pingback: Tatjana Soli, author of The Lotus Eaters, on tour January 2011 | TLC Book Tours

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