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The Lovers by Vendela Vida Book Cover

Title:  The Lovers

Author:  Vendela Vida

No. of Pages:  225

First Published:  June 2010

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):  “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.”

Comments and Critique:  What to say about The Lovers?  It has been several weeks now, and I am still uncertain how I feel about it.  If I am honest with myself, I think the true answer is that I just don’t get it. 

I feel that the story that exists is not the one I was expecting.  Rather than being about lovers, as the title would suggest, it is more about what Yvonne finding herself, examining her relationships with her family and with herself.  The trip to Turkey, rather than idyllic, is flawed as the town is not what she remembers, the people and her side trips are not what she expects.  However, there is a beauty behind or in spite of those flaws, albeit one that is stark rather than picturesque. 

Either because of my confusion or causing my confusion, The Lovers raises many questions with little in the way of answers.  Why the title?  Who are “The Lovers“?  Are we ever truthful with others or even ourselves about our relationships?  Is it a self-defense mechanism or something else?  Does it take others to help us see the truth or can we find the truth on our own?  I still have no idea on any of these. 

If the definition of a good book is one that causes the reader to question the message and lesson of a novel weeks after finishing, then The Lovers meet the mark.  If not, then I may need to do some soul searching of my own because I remain confused by what Ms. Vida shares with us.  My expectations were so far left of what actually occurs that I cannot help but feel more than slightly disappointed at the difference.  I know others have and will continue to rave about The Lovers.  As for my opinion, I wanted to like it more than I did.  Unfortunately, this all combines into a book that it just not for me – too esoteric and confusing with a title that has very little to do with the novel itself. 

Thank you to Ecco and Greg Mortimer for the opportunity to review this book!

If you have read The Lovers, do you have the answers to some of my questions?  I would love to discuss the novel with someone to help me shed some light on just what happened!! 

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