Currer's Reviews > The Lotus Eaters

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
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's review
Aug 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-novel, war-vietnam, women-s-experience, jungles
Read in August, 2012

This book does a stylistic thing I hate—switching POV constantly between paragraphs, or even sometimes between sentences. The writing awkward in other ways too, though occasionally very beautiful. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and would absolutely recommend it.

The story drew me in, and I really appreciated what seemed to me the goals of the novel: to get inside the Vietnam War from a woman’s perspective (including what may be the first fictional description I’ve read of a woman’s battle-related PTSD); and to tell the story of people who fall in love with Vietnamese culture during the war.

The book is about photographers, but it has a nicely complex attitude towards photography as a medium, carefully exploring what images of a war can and cannot do. The Vietnamese character, Linh, is equally complex, probably the most interesting (and sympathetic) person in the book. As I said, Soli’s writing is not always great, but her descriptions of the Vietnamese landscape are wonderfully visceral, and the combat/jungle patrol scenes are tense and compelling.

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