The Lovers, by Vendela Vida

Recently, I discovered the author Vendela Vida. Her most recent book, The Lovers, has been given high praise by literary sources, as well as noted authors, such as Joyce Carol Oates.
The Lovers is a psychological exploration of a middle-aged widow (Yvonne) who travels back to Datca, Turkey to relive her honeymoon. There, she tries to better understand her marriage, her loss, and the disassociation she feels from her grown children.

In many ways, the book is very existential. We feel Yvonne's sense of loneliness and disconnection with everything around her. There is an air of impending doom from the very beginning. The once-beautiful coastal town of Datca is now garbage-strewn and seedy. Yvonne does not speak Turkish, and she is is looked upon with distrust. The setting outside of the house is likewise foreboding and ominous. When Yvonne befriends a young shell-seeker, the reader is already prepared for tragedy. Later, when Yvonne travels to the home of his family, she is caught in a tempestuous sand storm. The storm mirrors her internal conflicts.

"The darkness was almost complete. What was she doing? ...She had traveled to Turkey to regain something of what she had with Peter decades earlier--and failing that, she had befriended a boy. A Turkish boy who spoke nothing of her language. And now he was gone, and she was again searching for some remnant of someone she had lost. Had she been so lost herself? ...A sad, aging woman with no anchor. Fumbling in underground caves." (p. 211)

In the hands of a less-skilled writer, the plot of this book would be less gripping. But Vida's use of language and metaphor is nothing less than mesmerizing. The Lovers inspired me to read her other two books, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, as well as, And Now You Can Go. They form a loose trilogy about the search for inner peace as one comes to terms with the present and the past.

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