Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Lotus Eaters” as Want to Read:
The Lotus Eaters
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Lotus Eaters

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  9,665 Ratings  ·  1,466 Reviews
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.

Ona stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll intoSaigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen A

Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Published (first published March 30th 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Lotus Eaters, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

MissIris Yes, it's worth it. I would read again but only after I have read everything else I want to read.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 31, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam, nancy-pearl
Initially set against the fall of Saigon and then flashing back to the early 1960's, Tatjana Soli's The Lotus Eaters evokes the hypnotic horrors of war set against a lush, culturally rich landscape that lured many photojournalists during the Vietnam War. Falling victim to the intoxicating mix of adrenaline, fear, curiosity, and self-righteousness, they--just as the lotus eaters of Homer's The Odyssey--forsake their homelands as war becomes their passion and their comfort.

The novel focuses on Hel
Oct 02, 2011 Staci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Staci by: TLC Tour Book
My thoughts:
This one punched me deep in my gut....I literally sobbed for 15 minutes after I finished the last page. All of these emotions were swirling within my chest and brain and I needed to release them with a good cry. I am just beginning to understand why my two uncles that served in Vietnam never spoke of their experience. Who would want to revisit those horrors, to have those images dredged up again, to make them real once more? I felt shell-shocked and wounded deep in my soul by the evi
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Wow! Can this really be Tatjana Soli's first novel? She pierces right through all the bullshit about war in general and the Vietnam debacle in particular. I've learned to steer clear of most novels about Vietnam because there's usually too much of the macho jungle combat detail. I'm glad I made an exception for The Lotus Eaters. Written by a woman about a woman---a photographer who shows up in Vietnam in 1965 with no idea what she's doing or how it will change her life.
I'm glad I stayed with th
Book Concierge
I had such high hopes for this book. Basically it’s the story of a young woman combat photographer in Vietnam towards the end of the war, Helen Adams, and the two men she loves – Sam Darrow (a seasoned photographer who has a reputation), and Linh (the Vietnamese man who is Darrow’s and then Helen’s assistant).

I didn’t find anything about the relationships believable. I didn’t feel the passion or tenderness or compassion or love between any of them. The mark of good writing is that the author wil
Apr 04, 2010 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I watched the film The Hurt Locker recently. I have had difficulty putting my thoughts onto paper about it and so you haven't seen a review. One thing in particular that stood out for me, however, was the scene where Staff Sergeant James is grocery shopping, followed by a scene of him trying to talk to his wife about his experiences in the Iraq War as she prepares a meal. These are very revealing scenes. The soldier goes from intense and life threatening situations in Iraq to the every day monot ...more
Typically, I avoid war books like the plague with a few notable exceptions (Tim O’Brien, Kevin Power). So The Lotus Eaters sat on my To Be Read shelf for nearly three years before I picked it up. And once I started reading, the house could have burned down around me – THAT’S how compelling it is.

Tatjana Soli’s main character, gutsy Helen Adams, is a photographer who feeds on the adrenalin rush of covering the war in Vietnam – an unwinnable war in which it is not unusual for a native Vietnamese t
Sep 09, 2016 Hana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very atmospheric and at times brutal novel about the Vietnam War. Three intriguing main characters, Helen Adams a photo journalist, her colleague, reporter Sam Darrow, and a Vietnamese former soldier, Linh, who becomes a photojournalist in his own right. The inevitable love affairs (sequential, not simultaneous!) never quite rang true for me and there was something flat about the characters that I could not pin down, but I appreciated it for the extraordinary descriptions of battles and of a bea ...more
Larry Bassett
Jun 09, 2012 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Larry by: Molly Hansen

“Every good war picture is an antiwar picture. Why am I here otherwise?”

This was a wonderful book to read, one of the best of the many books I have read about Vietnam. It combines the horror of war with the beauty of the Vietnamese countryside; you experience the city, the jungle, the village. There is the strange confluence of periods of love and tenderness and peace with the overarching unpredictability of a war zone. It is a story about love, love of place, love of self, love of danger. And
May 16, 2013 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Janet Maslin/NY Times
The perfect title. As readers, we give it little thought. By the time we see a book in its finished state, it’s a done deal. We consider its cover, the heft in our hands as we ponder the accolades on the back jacket or peruse the synopsis on the inside flap (I don’t know what e-reading sorts do – don’t you miss the feel of a book, the whisper and scent of paper and ink? Sigh.). At any rate, the right title is perhaps the most critical and taken-for-granted aspect of a book.

But the perfect title
The Lotus Eaters, Tatjana Soli’s debut novel, is quite impressive, but not without its faults. It revolves around neophyte photojournalist, Helen Adams, who we first meet in 1975 in Saigon as the North Vietnamese begin to roll through the city, and the city falls. I guess I shouldn’t call Adams a neophyte photojournalist because she arrived in Vietnam in 1965, an idealistic California girl, fresh out of college, her only previous encounter with war being her father’s tales of fighting in the Kor ...more
Jan 18, 2011 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-fiction
On the positive side, it was a gripping story and was well written. However, for me, the negatives outweigh the positives. First, the perspective shifted from character to character in a dizzying manner that often left me wondering whose thoughts and feelings we were following. Second, it was full of cliches. At least three characters who said something like 'I'm a good luck charm' or 'all we have is time' were dead within 5 pages. There was the tough as nails special ops soldier with a heart of ...more
Jeffrey Crimmel
May 01, 2011 Jeffrey Crimmel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished the Lotus Eaters on May 1. This is a great account of that war that made headlines and dominated the lives of my generation from the late 60s to the late 70s. While I was traveling around the world and living the story of my book, Living Beneath the Radar, I arrived in Bangkok the day the last helicopters pulled out of Saigon, in Vietnam. The author takes the present day reader back to that country leading up to the dramatic end and the chaos that existed in the neighboring countries of ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Gabby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd heard some good things about this book, and it had some good reviews, so I picked it up. I'm always willing to read something a little different.

This was a historical fiction work about the Vietnam War. The main character is a female photographer who kinda stumbles into becoming a star photographer of the war, and how living amid the war, and in Vietnam shaped and changed her life.

The book was okay, as it took me awhile to sort of get into it. I kept hoping for more. The writing was fine, as
May 14, 2010 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan by: Tara
3 1/2 stars.
All they now wanted was to stay where they were with the Lotus-eaters, to browse on the lotus, and to forget all thoughts of return.
Homer, The Odyssey as quoted in The Lotus Eaters.

In chapter one, photojournalist Helen Adams is preparing to leave Vietnam during the 1975 evacuation. Chapter two starts in 1963 with Linh, a former Vietnamese soldier, now an assistant to photojournalist Darrow. Both eventually meet Helen and become her friends, her life, and Vietnam becomes her home in
Aug 01, 2013 Bev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a captivating read. Generally I'm not inclined to read wartime novels, however I was visually drawn to the book by the cover and the interesting title was the final temptation, enticing me to crack open the pages. After the first couple of chapters I was hooked.

Helen Adams is an American photojournalist in war-torn Vietnam and through the lens of a camera she captures the violence and horrors of war, burned villages and mangled and charred bodies. However, amidst the tragedy Helen find
Aug 03, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
*eyeroll* What a book. Here's this narrator who is in Vietnam to photograph the war and doesn't know how to load film in her camera, but somehow she's gifted as all heck because a couple pages later she's scored the cover of LIFE magazine! Wheeee! That's one of hundreds of flaws in this character and the storyline. The writing around the relationships in the book was weak, while text describing the war were much stronger. Ultimately I groaned throughout the book, trudged through 2/3rds, and then ...more
Tyler Mcmahon
Jun 01, 2010 Tyler Mcmahon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tatjani Soli’s The Lotus Eaters is a stunning debut novel set in the Vietnam War. Helen Adams drops out of college and makes her way to Saigon, hoping to witness history in the making. She learns the trade of combat photographer from Sam Darrow, a veteran journalist who becomes her lover. Helen conquers her fears, survives combat, and masters the art of distilling a relentless human tragedy down into single images. Like many of the soldiers she documents, Helen is sent home wounded, only to find ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Lghamilton rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I truly disliked this book. The dislike (spoiler alert) started out when the author describes the evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. In a split second decision, Helen abandons Linh on the departing helicopter (we've all seen the footage of the mad scramble to get on those last helicopters), but manages to scrounge up PAPER and PENCIL to write a note, PLASTIC BAG in which to place the note, and a STRING with which to secure the bag/note around Linh's note.

Then we are supposed to
switterbug (Betsey)
Sep 21, 2013 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"He was like one of Homer's lotus eaters. He simply forgot all thoughts of return."

The novel opens as the US troops are pulling out of Vietnam in 1975, and photojournalist Helen Adams is walking the streets of Saigon, feeling familiar and close to the city. She's been here over a decade, and is conflicted about leaving this now refugee town to go back to the states.

She walks to the apartment she shares with her lover and also photographer, Linh, a Vietnamese who has been injured. She is anxious
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 28, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Suzanne Dobbins
This was a terrific read, which came through despite my not reading it in the usual way. I tend to be a fast, voracious reader. I'd have ordinarily made my way through this book in a few days, not a few weeks, but lately I've been forced to put my spare time and energy elsewhere. I'm not sure if that was to the benefit or detriment of the book.

The book is set during the Vietnam War and is centered on Helen, an American woman photojournalist and her two lovers--Darrow, an American, Linh, a Vietna
Apr 11, 2010 Serena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli takes place in Vietnam between 1963 and 1975 and becomes a journal of Helen Adams’ evolution into a photojournalist from a young woman chasing the ghosts of her father and brother. The Vietnam War was one of the most controversial in American history, and journalists were on the front lines of the battles — political and physical.

“When they were fired on, the advisers called down airpower, but it dropped short, falling on them and civilians. A free-for-all cluste
update 9/26/11 as I keep thinking about this rating, it just keeps nagging at me. It is not really a 4 star read, for me. I am bumping it down to a 3. I guess it says something about the book that I am struggling with this rating, even days later. But there it is: a 3 star rating.

This is a hard one for me to review. Basically, I'd rate it a 3.5 stars but since i can't, I'll bump it up to 4 stars. For most of the story, I was turned off by the focus of a love story/triangle. I went into the book
Mindy McAdams
I have very mixed feelings about this novel. A lot of good things here -- not least, a central character who is a photojournalist and a woman, in Vietnam during the American war years there. At some points, the writing made me feel like I was there -- not in the Vietnam I know only a little, from a few weeks of travel, but in that Vietnam my child-mind imagined when the war was on TV and the cover of Life magazine.

The other side of my experience while reading was a sense of doubt. So many thing
Sep 13, 2012 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the 'Lotus Eaters' (I don't think I took time to write reviews on Goodreads at the time when I read it).

I loved 'The Lotus Eaters' so much that I pre-ordered Tatjana Soli's 2nd book "The Forgetting Tree". (which I'm now reading).
Its also 'fantastic'! (very engaging...'a page turner')

My only regret...(I gave away my signed copy of "The Lotus Eaters" (the beautiful hard copy). Some books are worth keeping and re-reading... "The Lotus Eaters" is that type of book!
Damn....(I blew it)....

Jul 05, 2015 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cultural
This book was slow to take off. I didn't feel drawn to the MC or any of the other characters and I seriously wondered if I wanted to finish it. It wasn't until about halfway, that I felt that the MC opened up and began showing emotion. That's also when I started noticing the descriptive strokes in the writing. Some of this was beautiful. But it didn't seem consistent.

I listened to the audio. The narration was great for the most part. The one thing that was a big no-no for me was the misproununc
Jun 07, 2016 punxsygal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, love, vietnam, war
There are many of us who remember April 28, 1975 and the scene at the American embassy in Saigon, Vietnam as helicopters evacuated people from the roof. And there begins this novel of an American photojournalist, Helen Adams, and the ten years she spent covering the Vietnam War. Helen arrived in the country barely knowing how to load film in a camera more advanced than an instamatic one. She had lost a brother to the war and wanted to understand what happened. She finds that war is an addiction ...more
Jun 01, 2015 Sally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This may be more of an emotional 5star than a literary one, but this book really got under my skin.
Maybe it's because I read it during Memorial day, or because I came of age during this era, or because friends and family members came home changed forever or didn't come home at all. I could relate to the war stories from their stories or lack there of because it was too difficult to talk about.
Helen was an unusual and very strong woman of that era. Most women who wanted to "participate" in the
Elizabeth B
Jul 23, 2010 Elizabeth B rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I jumped into this book as I do all mainstream fiction – fast, furious and expecting to be done in less than an hour. It took three chapters for me to realize this was not the right approach to this novel. So, I started over and began taking my time and savoring each page and turn of phrase. This is not a book for fans of mainstream fiction but stands as a fine example of a new dawn in literary fiction. With little dialogue to move it forward, the book utilizes everyday moments and fabulous desc ...more
David Stanley
Aug 18, 2013 David Stanley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I was sorely disappointed to miss the discussion of with my book group. As I am sure many readers were, I found myself struggling with the protagonist. Was she a selfish irresponsible Westerner, seeking to quite her demons, or make her reputation by displaying the suffering of others. Or was she a fearful lost sole desperately caught in the vice of need. Trying to make something of substance with her pursuits. Looking to make sense of the loss of her brother, searching for th ...more
Meredith Morgan
The first chapter of this novel grabbed me and promised an incomparable story. The rest of the novel never quite fulfilled that promise, but it was a riveting story about love and obsession in the midst the Vietnam war. For the most part it was beautifully written. While the theme might not be highly original, I found the treatment to be engaging and the characters compelling.

Helen Adams is one of the first female photojournalists in Vietnam during the mid-sixties. She went to Vietnam following
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Lotus Eaters, by Tatjana Soli 7 80 Sep 03, 2015 09:01AM  
Bookworm Buddies: Looking for a Buddy Read - The Lotus Eaters 8/24/14 1 13 Aug 24, 2014 07:23AM  
  • The Disappeared
  • The Surrendered
  • The Man from Saigon
  • This Burns My Heart
  • Something Red
  • The Calligrapher's Daughter
  • The Gendarme
  • Matterhorn
  • The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars
  • When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace
  • The Sandalwood Tree
  • The Bells
  • The Wives of Henry Oades
  • A Dangerous Friend
  • The Painter From Shanghai
  • The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam
  • When the Elephants Dance
  • Beneath the Lion's Gaze
Tatjana Soli is an American novelist and short-story writer. Her first novel, The Lotus Eaters (2010), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize, was a New York Times Bestseller, and a New York Times 2010 Notable Book. Her second novel, The Forgetting Tree (2012) was a New York Times Notable Book. Soli's third novel, The Last Good Paradise, was among Th ...more
More about Tatjana Soli...

Share This Book

“Pictures could not be accessories to the story -- evidence -- they had to contain the story within the frame; the best picture contained a whole war within one frame.” 20 likes
“Why did someone fall in love with you because you are one thing and then want you to be something else?” 20 likes
More quotes…