Title: The Lovers: A Novel
Author: Vendela Vida
Release Date: June 27, 2010
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Yvonne is a widow. Her husband Peter was recently killed in a car accident and she is bereft. She’s also noticed that she’s old all of a sudden, not the youthful woman she remembers. Yvonne decides to go to Turkey for a few weeks, to visit the place where she and Robert honeymooned in order to capture some of the spirit of that lost time. Upon arriving, she meets some interesting people and tries to get to know them, which has tragic repercussions Yvonne couldn’t have foreseen.
I loved Vendela Vida’s previous novel Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, so it was with excitement that I read her newest, The Lovers. While The Lovers was interesting on its own terms and took advantage of Vida’s atmospheric writing, it didn’t quite live up to the mysterious nature of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name. The lack of that mystery really took away from The Lovers’ potential.
The Lovers is about Yvonne’s journey to understanding and acceptance, but it doesn’t come easily. Yvonne is utterly alone, physically and emotionally. Vida describes her isolation well. As Yvonne reflects on the twists and turns her life has taken and the unique parts that make the whole of her identity, the reader sees him or herself in Yvonne. Vida makes Yvonne’s struggle and emotions very easy to identify with and understand.
The ending of The Lovers is very strange. While Vida ties some storylines up beautifully, others are left dangling, unaddressed and unresolved. It seems too rushed, too abrupt. The reader is left wondering what happened to the other characters in the novel, those that Yvonne chose to strike up a friendship with. A more fleshed out ending (and a more developed novel in general) would have been much more satisfying.
The Lovers is an incredibly contemplative novel. There is little driving the novel forward. Instead, it moves along at its own reflective pace. It’s very well-written, showcasing Vida’s immense talent and creating beautiful prose to tell a story and convey emotion. It’s a moving piece of literary fiction, albeit with some flaws. Even so, I’ll definitely be picking up Vida’s next novel.