Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: "The Lovers" by Vendela Vida

When Vendela Vida's The Lovers begins, Yvonne, who was recently widowed, has decided to take a vacation to Turkey and return to the city where she and her husband spent their honeymoon nearly 30 years before. It is the first time she's traveled since her husband's death, and she experiences a bit of a culture shock between her home in Vermont and the village in Turkey she is visiting. Soon she begins to realize her plans for a relaxing and contemplative trip might not have been the wisest thing, as being alone with her memories brings to light the challenges she had with her husband as well as the happy times. Her thirst for companionship connects her with Ozlem, whose estranged husband owns the house in which Yvonne is staying, and Ahmet, a young Turkish boy who takes a liking to her. As Yvonne's trip continues, both relationships face difficulties (one tragically), and she finds herself at odds with what to do next, both while on vacation and in her life post-travel.

This was a well-written book that had a lot of things going for it. The characters of Yvonne and Ozlem are very interesting and far more complex than you believe at first glance. And while the story is compelling and intriguing, as very little you expect actually happens, ultimately it left me a bit disappointed. While Yvonne becomes more frantic as the book draws to a close, the story's disjointed nature was jarring, and Yvonne's actions didn't seem true to her character. The ending also seemed a little abrupt for me, although it had been hinted at.

Vida's previous book, Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name is fantastic. I'd definitely recommend that one; this one, not as much.

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