The Lovers by Vendela Vida

Ms. Vida presents another spare and reflective novel about a woman searching to redefine herself after the death of a loved one. Instead of the cold glow of the Arctic Circle that glimmered through Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name, Ms. Vida bathes The Lovers in the cerulean blue of the Turkish Riviera.

Ms. Vida writes so deftly and with such elegance. You are given just the right depth of detail to create your own vision of setting and character and the just enough tension to keep you on your emotional edge.

This story sags in the behavior of Yvonne, the recently-widowed history teacher who returns to the tiny Turkish village of Datca, the site of her honeymoon some thirty years before. She travels there hoping to evoke memories of her husband that she has lost in a period of public mourning.

Yvonne is exasperating. Perhaps it is her grief that causes her to behave with an uncharacteristic stumbling impulsiveness. Her social naiveté and clumsiness, the long stares behind the façade of the perfect marriage, the wayward daughter and the creepily-perfect son are way too Anne Tyler/Joyce Carol Oates. Yet, in contrast to these sentimental writers, I felt like Vida was laughing a bit at her protagonist.

In this regard, The Lovers lacks the resonance of …Northern Lights… It is beautifully written, but a bit too maudlin to allow you to fully connect and empathize.

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