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Review: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Title: The Lotus Eater
Author: Tatjana Soli
Year Published: 2010

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pages: 390 including a bibliography
Rating: 4 out of 5

Geography Connection (my Google Reading map): Vietnam and Cambodia

FTC Disclosure: This book has been on my shelves so long I cannot remember where it came from. I probably got it as a gift

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 at her side, 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.

Review: Having traveled in Cambodia and a little in Vietnam I loved the setting of this book. I pictured all the places I visited, remembering the people, smells, and sites. Soli did a really great job of capturing southeast Asia in her descriptions and, from what I've read of the Vietnam Conflict, she captured that well also.

I liked the main characters of Helen, Linh, and Sam. Their relationships seemed real and I cared about what happened to them. I didn't even get annoyed with them for the decisions they made or the way they treated one another; it all seemed very in character and fitting for the times and the situation.

The only thing that lagged for me was that it seemed a bit long. That said, I feel like I really understood the times, the situation, and the characters because there was so much detail. The story begins with Helen and Linh making their way to the US Embassy on April 30, 1975 as Saigon is falling under the control of the North Vietnamese. After the first chapter, the book travels back in time to 1963 and the reader learns the background story for Helen, Linh, and Sam and how they all became intertwined.

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