Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: "The Lovers" by Vendela Vida

Yvonne, a recent widow with grown twin children, longs for an escape from her deep sadness over the passing of her husband. She decides to return to Datca, Turkey, the place where she and her husband honeymooned 28 years ago. She reserves an expensive summer rental, hoping to treat herself to something that will help to ease her pain.

When she arrives, though, she finds that this will not be the escape that she longs for. Turkey has changed drastically since her last visit, and it is no longer the place of her memories. Her rental's landlord and his wife continually stop by unexpectedly, breaking the bliss of her vacation with their strange marital arrangement. Her memories of the past and her husband continue to haunt her.

She responds to all of this turmoil by escaping to nearby beach and making friends with the child Ahmet. She wiles away her days there, determined to communicate with Ahmet despite their language barrier and she begins to understand more about her distant adult children because of him. When a tragic accident occurs, her recovery process is thrown off course and she begins to question everything that she thought that she knew.

I was excited to read The Lovers, especially because I'd heard many raves about Vida's previous book, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name (I have not personally read it). I admit that I was expecting more from this book than what I got. I don't know what exactly it was about this book that disappointed me, but disappoint me it did. For the most part I felt disconnected from the characters. Anyone who reads my book reviews on a regular basis will know that I always appreciate a good connection with an intriguing character. I had a hard time connecting to Yvonne, our protagonist, and I can only guess that it was because Yvonne's deep sorrow caused her to distance herself from the world. I couldn't understand her strained relationship with her children, nor could I understand what drew her to the little boy, Ahmet. Intellectually I could understand her yearning for the past, but it didn't make me relate to her better. The people that she surrounded herself with, the landlord and his wife, Ahmet, a couple that she meets at the beach, didn't help. Each character could only be described as strange, or troubled.

When "the tragedy", mentioned in the book's description, occurs, I still found myself disconnected from the plot and the characters. If anything that should have been what made me care more about the book's characters, but it didn't.

Overall, I was disappointed, yet I can still appreciate the author's insight into the Turkey of today. The scenes that she described were hauntingly beautiful, the ending was satisfying after all of the events that occurred in the book, and the writing was exquisite, but it lacked that certain something that makes me want to rave about a book.

Browse inside The Lovers

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Recommended to: Those who enjoy fiction, those who have enjoyed Vida's previous novels
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010

Thank-you to HarperCollins Canada for sending me this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.


  1. Eek, I'm sorry you were disconnected from the characters! If that's how you felt, I'm sure I would feel that way, too. I've seen mixed reactions to this one... think I'll hold off for now, though I love the cover!

  2. Oh sorry :( I like it, but not as much as her previous book--which I loved.