Monday, August 23, 2010

Review - The Lovers by Vendela Vida

The Lovers by Vendela Vida
published 7/10
228 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Twenty-eight years ago, Peter and Yvonne honeymooned in the beautiful coastal village of Datça, Turkey. Now Yvonne is a widow, her twin children grown. Hoping to immerse herself in memories of a happier time — as well as sand and sea— Yvonne returns to Datça. But her plans for a restorative week in Turkey are quickly complicated. Instead of comforting her, her memories begin to trouble her. Her vacation rental's landlord and his bold, intriguing wife — who share a curious marital arrangement — become constant uninvited visitors, in and out of the house.

Overwhelmed by the past and unexpectedly dislocated by the environment, Yvonne clings to a newfound friendship with Ahmet, a local boy who makes his living as a shell collector. With Ahmet as her guide, Yvonne gains new insight into the lives of her own adult children, and she finally begins to enjoy the shimmering sea and relaxed pace of the Turkish coast. But a devastating accident upends her delicate peace and throws her life into chaos — and her sense of self into turmoil.

With the crystalline voice and psychological nuance for which her work has been so celebrated, Vendela Vida has crafted another unforgettable heroine in a stunningly beautiful and mysterious landscape.

My thoughts:

I haven't seen too may reviews of this book floating around the blogosphere, but I suspect when they arrive it will be a novel that receives high praise from a lot of people. I think, in my case, it is the kind of novel I was able to appreciate, but never fully enjoyed.

Vida writes about journeys, both physical and emotional, that are undertaken in the name of grief and love. While each of her characters navigates the choppy waters of their chosen path, she treats them as an interested but somewhat distant observer, which left me feeling disconnected from their stories.

I did very much enjoy Vida's writing style - it was sparse in a way that matched the tone of the novel well. She has a way of illuminating the small, seemingly insignificant moments of life that show how momentous they can truly be.

"Yvonne thought about how the meaningless talk between couples could fill days, years - an entire marriage. Sometimes it was the meaningless talk she missed most. She leaned over the back of the boat, studying the patterns of water in the wake. For a brief moment, Yvonne thought it was not impossible that she might meet a man one day and remarry. Then she exhaled sharply, extinguishing the thought as she would a candle."

Ultimately, while I recognized the skill and intent that crafted this novel, I was not able to connect with the characters, and so didn't feel compelled to read their story. It became the book that I set down to read something else. I have a feeling that my opinion will be in the minority - I'll be interested to see what the consensus is when I start to see other reviews popping up.

Finished: 8/15/10
Source: ARC from publisher - thank you!
MPAA Rating: PG-13 - nothing terribly explicit happens, but a lot is suggested
My Rating: 6/10

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