The Lotus Eaters
By Tatjana Soli
(St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312611576, 400pp.)
Publication Date: March 30, 2010
List Price: $24.99*
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A "New York Times" Best Seller A "New York Times" Notable Book
A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men.
On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country she has come to love. Linh, the Vietnamese man who loves her, must grapple with his own conflicted loyalties of heart and homeland. As they race to leave, they play out a drama of devotion and betrayal that spins them back through twelve war-torn years, beginning in the splendor of Angkor Wat, with their mentor, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, once Helen's infuriating love and fiercest competitor, and Linh's secret keeper, boss and truest friend.
Tatjana Soli paints a searing portrait of an American woman's struggle and triumph in Vietnam, a stirring canvas contrasting the wrenching horror of war and the treacherous narcotic of obsession with the redemptive power of love. Readers will be transfixed by this stunning novel of passion, duty and ambition among the ruins of war.
Tatjana Soli's short stories have been widely published, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and twice cited in the 100 Distinguished Stories in Best American Short Stories. The Lotus Eaters, her debut novel, was a New York Times bestseller and Editors Choice and a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Award. Born in Salzburg, Austria, Soli attended Stanford University and the Warren Wilson M.F.A. program. She lives in Orange County, California.
As a librarian and a reader, Nancy Pearl scours the shelves in search of hidden treasures -- titles you may have missed. Her findings include two chilling thrillers, one exquisite 1960s memoir, a lively biography of George Orwell, an example of historical fiction at its very best, and much more fiction, nonfiction and poetry. More at NPR.org
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- Soli pulled the novel's title, The Lotus Eaters, from an episode in Homer's The Odyssey and uses Homer's description of the land of the lotus-eaters as the novel's opening epigraph. What connection do you see between Homer's lotus-eaters and the main characters of this novel? What, if anything, in this novel acts like the lotus described by Homer, so powerful and seductive it causes one to abandon all thoughts of home? Does each character have a different "lotus" that draws them in? How does the title illuminate the main themes of the novel?