In the searing debut novel The Lotus Eaters, author Tatjana Soli captures the devastation of war-torn Vietnam from 1963-1975, but also beautifully balances it with complex relationships and passionate romance.

Helen Adams has dropped out of college to come to Vietnam to work as a freelance photographer and to find answers about her brother’s death.  She soon falls in love with a charismatic Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer, who takes her under his wing.  As a female covering combat in this age of new-found womens liberation, Helen’s gender draws as much attention as does her cover-quality work.  But Helen,  just like the lotus eaters in Homer’s Odyssey, finds herself unwilling or unable to leave, even in the final chaotic days of the U.S. military’s evacuation from the conflict.

There’s romance (with two very different men) —  there’s danger (with every mine-filled step) and there’s that anxious tension that keeps you hoping for their survival right up to the very end.  The book is thoroughly researched (it includes a lengthy bibliography) with a perspective that only 40 plus years of history could provide.

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