Vendela Vida’s first novel, LET THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ERASE YOUR NAME, made a splash in the literary world. Was dynamic and unique. Now with ,THE LOVERS, she’s brought us yet another unique story.
For two years, Yvonne has struggled with the grief of losing her husband. Everyone keeps telling her it will get better; time heals all wounds. You know the drill. Well, finally, she decides to get away, go visit the coastal region of Turkey where she and her husband honeymooned so many years ago. She can do this; she is ready. And she will be meeting up with her son and his fiancee at the end of her trip.
Yvonne arrives in the little scenic vacation town of Datca. She has rented a place near the water. She speaks almost no Turkish. The couple she rents from are bizarre and add plenty of color to the story. The nearby even smaller town of Knidos has a beach she remembers visiting with her husband. But it has changed as has most everything else. Everything looks seedier. It is the look a place has when you return so many years later to find it changed.
Yvonne befriends a little boy at the beach. They are both lonely. He dives for exotic shells and sells them on the beach. Yvonne returns to the beach daily for his shells. They bond in a peculiar way. After all, why would a nine year old boy be alone at the beach everyday? Who is he?
Yvonne and her daughter have been somewhat estranged since the death of Yvonne’s husband. But because of this trip they become more aware of who they each are. And who they can be to each other.
You find yourself entering this world where nothing is quite as it seems to be. Vida is a master of lovely prose. She has a way of drawing you into the story and keeping you wanting more. Then giving you even more than you bargained for.
The world of travel and the world of grief are both entered into with deep insight and a broad sense of place. You enter a vacation paradise past its prime. You end up with the beginning of a lifetime of healing.
This short novel is big on story. I almost hesitate to call it a summer read. That lightens it too much. But it is one of those sophisticated summer reads. Yes, that’s it.