Maybe not The Lovers you might be expecting.

At least, it sure wasn’t what I was expecting. Vendela Vida’s The Lovers is an easy read, recalling the story of a woman who, after her husband’s tragic death, decides to return to the site of their honeymoon to gain some perspective and learn to start her life anew.  The book follows her trip to Turkey where she meets a variety of vaguely mysterious people who teach her about herself and the world around her.

In all honesty, this book would likely have been much more affecting if I were a mother or a widow. I felt like this was a book written for women with children. It is a book about love, loss, regret and defining oneself and I feel like I haven’t had the life experiences to really relate to the protagonist, Yvonne. This doesn’t take away from the quality of the book, but it does lose some of its power when the reader feels like an outsider. Certainly, I have read many books in which I have nothing in common with the protagonist except that we are both human; however, I have still felt more affection and kinship with those characters.

Or perhaps it is that Yvonne is so wrapped up in solidly defining who she is based on her relationships with others that kept me at a distance. She is, by turns, a widow, a tourist, a mother, a wife, a teacher, an American and various other descriptors. She is likable and is written honestly: her relationship with the young boy she meets is beautiful and relatable. A lot of the book deals with her relationships with children – her own and others – and I suspect it is this aspect that kept me from feeling immersed in the story. Vida writes well and weaves in much symbolism for the concept of loss, but I just couldn’t relate to the fears and concerns of Yvonne.

The Lovers is a book I would recommend to women with grown children who are perhaps in the throes of redefinition. Or perhaps anyone who is in the midst of an existential crisis.  But don’t just take my word for it – you can read a snippet of it here.

In terms of quality, the book is excellent. Perhaps I just read it at the wrong point in my life.

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~ by foodNURD on August 19, 2010.

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