The Lovers: Book summary and reviews of The Lovers by Vendela Vida

The Lovers

A Novel

By Vendela Vida

The Lovers
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2010,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

With the crystalline voice, mordant humor, and depth of feeling for which her work has been so celebrated, Vendela Vida has crafted another unforgettable heroine in a beautiful and mysterious landscape.

Yvonne, recently widowed and the mother of grown twins, returns to Datça, the coastal village in Turkey where she and her husband honeymooned 24 years ago. She hopes to immerse herself in the warm sand and sea, and in memories of a better time in her life. But her plans are quickly complicated. Her Turkish landlord and his bold and intriguing wife have a curious marital agreement and are constant visitors to the home. And rather than being comforted by her memories, they begin to trouble her.

Overwhelmed by her past and her environment, Yvonne clings to her newfound friendship with Ahmet, a young Turkish boy who sells shells at the local beach. With the boy as her guide, Yvonne gains new insight into her own grown children and begins to enjoy the shimmering sea and the relaxed pace of the Turkish coast. But a terrible accident throws her life into chaos, and her own sense of self into turmoil.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Vida shows she’s supremely talented at tracing the drifts of memory and emotion that course through a person ... clear, simple prose ... An elegant consideration of how death and distance tightens human connections—a big theme that Vida addresses with sure-footedness and charm.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Vendela Vida has written a riveting and suspenseful novel about an American woman’s voyage to self-discovery as she travels alone in Turkey. Though the aura of dread mounts, as in one of Paul Bowles' eerie and unnerving works of fiction, there are surprising revelations here, and an utterly unpredictable ending." - Joyce Carol Oates

"Vendela Vida's The Lovers is a spare and haunting meditation on how travel can bring us full circle back to the place from which we should have started. I read it over two days and dreamed about it the second night." - Francine Prose, author of Goldengrove

Vendela Vida writes with elegance and economy. In this engrossing novel, she has managed to combine a stingingly acute portrait of grief, a moving meditation on love (both filial and romantic) and a page-turning adventure. - Zoe Heller, author of The Believers

"Like a good poem, the story's meaning is ambiguous, and as interesting for what it is as for what it is not. Long after its surprising last line, the reader is left to ponder the real meanings of Yvonne's troubled journey into self-knowledge." - Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by SallyAnn
A journey
This book will take you on a journey through the mist of truth, whole truth, and the half-truth of Yvonne’s life. After her husband’s sudden death she will travel to Turkey, recreating the memory of the joyous times of their honeymoon. It is there she will meet her landlord as she has rented his mistress’s home, his wife who is just a little curious, and a young boy whom she befriends.
I liked this book and the pace and rhythm of the writing did not lag.
Anyone who has lost someone close to them will understand her meandering and confusion along with a quiet strength. The selfishness that prevails as you are afraid you will lose YOU and because you do not quite know who you are.
It seems the author has an acute knowledge of this purgatory.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Angie G. (Hagerstown, MD), Clear Spring Library
Did not love The Lovers
This review has been a long time coming. I read the book when I received it and thoroughly disliked it. I decided to let it sit for awhile and try again later as what I enjoy varies with my moods. I have recently read it again and it did not improve upon second reading. From the book description I believed that The Lovers was more a psychological suspense novel than a journey of self-discovery. So I decided to evaluate it on how I thought it would be received by my book discussion group. I do not believe they would find the journey credible and would not like any of the characters.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Randi E. (Walnut Creek, CA)
The paralysis of grief
In "The Lovers", the main character Yvonne is on a trip to Turkey, her first travel since her husband Peter's death two years ago. This story is a study of grief, and Vida does a very good job of conveying Yvonne's erratic emotions. It seemed that Yvonne felt she was under a microscope, and her insecurities color her experiences and relationships in Turkey, creating a character who seemed perpetually on edge, and exhausted by self-doubt.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Kathleen L. (Buffalo, NY)
The Lovers by Vendela Vida
We are treated to three themes in The Lovers;the widow reflecting on her life,husband and children,The woman alone in a strange culture, and descriptions of the exotic place in Turkey that she visits. The beautiful scenery and luxurious house are combined with her feeling of isolation. The story is gripping, although slightly marred by examples of "fine writing"

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Barbara S. (Brick, NJ)
Stop, look and listen...
How many of us have lost a partner and looked into the future and said, "what now?" How does one take that next step to continue to live life? Whether it is for an hour, a day, a week, that first step has to be taken. Life as we knew it must stop a moment for us to think and prioritize. Travel is one of the tools commonly used to make that transition but it is the experiences during that moment that help form the person we become to face the future.

The author brings us the experience of a widow as she looks at herself, her relationship with her family and her ability to go on alone. I became a widow at age 48 and had such a moment in time so it was a familiar experience. We walk through that moment with the protagonist and feel her pain and joy. Great story!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Molly B. (Hygiene, CO)
Great descriptions, abrupt ending
Ms Vida's writing is absolutely beautiful - simple yet thorough, easy to read while evoking rich and complex feelings and ideas. She nails feelings and sentiments perfectly, from jet-lag to loss of a loved one to cultural misunderstandings, in such a beautiful, simple way. I love her writing style.

The plot and the pace of the book were not as satisfying. Her slow, exquisite descriptions in the beginning of the book gave way to a real change of pace as the plot sped up. The ending was abrupt and seemed contrived to me. It seemed like the author ran out of steam. While I appreciate short books like this one, I would have loved for The Lovers to go on much longer - so I could wallow in more of her writing and perhaps read a more balanced story. On the strength of what I have read here, I will definitely read Ms Vida's other books. She has left the door open for a sequel, it seems, which I would also read.

...15 more reader reviews

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Vendela Vida is the author of the critically acclaimed novels And Now You Can Go, Girls on the Verge and Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name. A founding coeditor of The Believer magazine, she lives with her husband and daughter in northern California.

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