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The Lovers: A Novel Hardcover – June 22, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The overwrought latest from Vida (Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name) concerns itself with paradoxes of intimacy: isolation within a closely tied family and the unexpected affection between strangers from different cultures. Twenty-six years after her honeymoon in Datça, Turkey, recently widowed Yvonne returns to the Turkish peninsula not to relive the early happy days of her marriage but to remember them. Instead, she finds herself haunted by the many struggles she and her husband faced, above all the wedge driven between them by the antics of their alcoholic daughter, Aurelia. As Yvonne explores the town and its surrounding beaches, she starts to settle into her new identity as a widow and finds herself under a microscope as an American tourist traveling alone. A fast friendship with a young Turkish boy eases Yvonne's loneliness, but it also sparks the disapproval of several locals, leading to a climactic conversation and a quiet epiphany. It's a slow, self-involved story, nearly every page of which is marred by Vida's strained attempts to create high art. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Vida's loosely arranged trilogy on "women in crisis" ends, perhaps aptly, with The Lovers, about an older, vulnerable woman coming to grips with her husband's death and her strained relationship with her children. Most reviewers cited Yvonne as a compelling, moving protagonist dealing with grief, betrayal, and life's ups and downs and praised Vida's spare, cinematic storytelling. The Onion AV Club provided the only major dissent, claiming that in its attempt at profundity, the novel instead delves into ambiguity and aimlessness. Most readers, however, will find much to enjoy in this subtle and haunting work.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060828390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060828394
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By joyful VINE VOICE on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's been over a month now since I've read this book and I am still thinking about the ending - in fact, about much of the book. It's not very long; I read it in one or two sittings straight on through.

Because I am enthralled with Turkey and love reading books set there (a reflection of my longing to revisit), I was immediately drawn to The Lovers by Vendela Vida. The premise of a woman going on vacation to a village by the sea and the title suggest that this story might romanticise travel (and thus might be a good beach/vacation read). Instead, The Lovers is a character driven, psychological study of a woman burdened by memories and guilt, who is trying to navigate the world after her husband's death. Traveling alone to a foreign and bewildering country becomes a metaphor for how one survives loss of a loved one and eventually, how to find one's self.

The narrative is tensely drawn and, just like real travel, is tinged with the possibility of danger at every corner. Will she be taken advantage of? What are the hidden motives of those she meets? Here, Turkey is depicted as beautiful, run down in some places, strange, and slightly threatening. This is not a lighthearted book that celebrates travel - rather it makes one uneasy.

You know something profound is going to happen to Yvonne, possibly something tragic. Vida builds the psychological suspense so effectively that the unforgettable ending threw me off completely. I am still mulling over it and can't decide exactly what happened. Which doesn't mean it wasn't satisfying, more unexpected.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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 and Yvonne is fearful that some catastrophic event will happen with Aurelia before the trip commences.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Bluestalking Reader VINE VOICE on July 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Oh, Vendela! You write so well, your characters POP right off the page fully formed, your setting description - wow.

Ack, but the ending! You've pained me, Vendela, stuck me through with a sword. I bleed! I want my afternoon back!

But anyway.

When The Lovers begins, 55-year old Yvonne has lost her husband, Peter, in an unexpected and violent way, at a particularly low point in their marriage. Their daughter - Aurelia - had been fighting an on-again, off-again battle with drug and alcohol addiction, putting a strain on their formerly happy marriage, sending their lives into chaos.

At the point of Peter's death their hopes for their daughter were slowly rising, though cautiously, but things were still on shaky ground. Losing Peter at such a critical juncture in all their lives - including that of Aurelia's twin brother Matthew, the perfect child - left Yvonne with even more pain, knowing everything ended before they had a chance to find a resolution and come back to each other.

Still unable to come to grips with her loss a couple years later, and tired of being treated as "that poor widow," Yvonne heads to exotic Turkey, where she and husband Peter spent their honeymoon roughly 25 years before. She's rented the second home of a rich Turkish businessman (one with kinky sex habits, by the way, though this isn't intrusive in the main plot), and begins exploring the countryside.

Driving a rented Renault, she stumbles upon the town of Knidos, in which Peter had taken her photo in front of ancient ruins so long ago - a photo he'd kept on his desk at work, symbolizing a joyful honeymoon. Because of the pleasant memories she begins spending all her days at Knidos, swimming and lounging on the beach, soon meeting a young boy named Ahmet.
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