“Helen walked through the torn streets unharmed as if she weren’t a foreigner, a woman; instead she moved through the city with the confidence of one who belonged.”
After having read The Lotus Eaters, I am convinced that I will love anything written by Tatjana Soli. This book was so well-researched, so well-written and so hard to put down. The story begins with Helen, a photojournalist in war-torn Vietnam. She and her fellow photographer, Linh, are embarking for the US embassy for the last flight out before the fall of Saigon. Linh, a native Vietnamese, is recovering from a gunshot wound and they both feel obligated to care for the other. Except only one of them will leave Vietnam on the helicopter. (I’ll let you read what happens next on your own!)
Recently I read a book called The Zanzibar Chest. It was a memoir of a war correspondent, and the author described the addiction to covering news in a dangerous area. He also made it clear that the photographers exposed themselves to the most harm because they had to get right up close. Tatjana Soli captured the feelings expressed in The Zanzibar Chest so well, I was amazed that she hadn’t actually been there herself. Her characters had such depth; I was completely taken with all of them. I also appreciated the story from the perspective of the photojournalist, especially from a female photographer. Most stories of the war in Vietnam center on the soldiers or the native children caught in the midst of the fighting. Soli’s story is something completely different and very mesmerizing.
I can’t wait to read her next novel – scheduled to be released soon!
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
published in 2010