THE LOVERS by Vendela Vida

Book Quote:

“Now, as she started down the length of the promenade, hope swelled in Yvonne’s chest. Hope that this would be the reward for her trip: she would feel the way she felt during their honeymoon, she would remember every conversation, every joke, every laugh and silence, and the feel of Peter’s thigh, warm from the sun, against hers. She felt she was tracing an unraveled ball of string to its source. They had been so happy at the beginning.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (JUN 24, 2010)

Vendela Vida’s relatively short novel, The Lovers, packs a big wallop. It is a multi-layered story about Yvonne, a widow, who returns to Turkey where she and her husband once honeymooned. She believes that by returning to the same place where they had been together early in her marriage, she will feel closer to him. Her husband Peter was recently killed in a hit and run car accident in their hometown of Burlington, Vermont. Yvonne has rented a large home, sight unseen, for a couple of weeks until she is scheduled to meet up with her son and daughter and their partners on a boating trip.

Yvonne is an aging woman who is a history teacher. Recently, she has had some troubles in the classroom. For instance, she presented a class about Cromwell twice in the same week. She knows that she is floundering, that her center is gone, but she does not know how to get it back. Perhaps, she thinks, this trip to Turkey will help her.

While in Turkey, odd things happen to her. Yvonne is renting a home that belongs to her landlord’s lover. Ozlem, the wife of Ali, the man from whom she is renting, appears one day and begins a friendship with Yvonne. Ozlem is fraught with her own problems. She is not sure whether she wants to leave Ali and she is violently jealous of Ali’s affair. Ozlem is also pregnant but not sure if Ali is the father.

Yvonne has two children, Aurelia and Matthew. Matthew has been good at everything since she was a child and Aurelia has been a drug addict, in and out of rehab a good many times. This trip they are all planning to take is to be a pre-wedding trip for Matthew;  Yvonne is fearful that some catastrophic event will happen with Aurelia before the trip commences. Aurelia’s drug addiction had caused a lot of friction between Yvonne and Peter during their marriage.

Yvonne likes to drive to the beach. While there, she meets a young boy who sells sea shells. Yvonne strikes up a friendship with him and commissions him to find shells for her. She looks at him as one would a new-found possibility, a friendship or child that is a tabla rasa. She begins to endow him with qualities that he doesn’t really possess but that she needs him to have.

Throughout her time in Turkey, which is fraught with panic, eerie circumstances, and darkness, Yvonne looks back on her marriage and tries to find the truth of what it really was. As she progresses in finding the truth, she becomes first weaker and then gains strength. She realizes that her marriage was not what she thought it was and that she is not really the woman she thought she was in her relationship. She sadly realizes that “these were two of her strengths: changing the subject and feigning ignorance.” She also realizes how very strong her love for her daughter is.

I found the book mesmerizing. The plot alone is enough to carry the book along but the atmospheric suspense makes it even more present and portentous. This book is a sensory experience, at times subtle like watching fish swim in a small pond. At other times, it feels like you are in the eye of the hurricane.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 26 readers
PUBLISHER: Ecco (June 22, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Vendela Vida
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Another book based on grief with suspense:

Stay by Nicola Giffith

Read our review of her husband’s book:

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers



June 24, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Turkey, y Award Winning Author

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