As a huge fan of this author's last book: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, I was very excited to read Vida's latest novel, The Lovers.
Like in her last novel, this story is about a woman on an emotional journey, traveling far from home to find herself and meaning in her life. Yvonne is a 53 year old woman, mother of adult twins: Matthew and Auerelia. She lost her husband Peter, two years earlier and is still numb from the loss. She is tired of having everyone still asking how she is doing, so she convinces herself she is fine, but her actions show us she is not. Yvonne's son, his fiancee and her family are cruising the Mediterranean on a chartered yacht, and she has agreed to met them in Turkey. Yvonne heads out for Datca Turkey, nine days before they are to meet up, where she has rented a home. This is the place where she and her husband Peter had honeymooned 28 years earlier. She is hoping that reliving happier times in her past will help ease her grief.
From her arrival at the airport the reader can glean that things will not go as planned. On her own, she puts herself in some unsafe situations. The town is not at all how she remembered it:
"The beach was filthy. Small plastic bags, gelatinous in the sun, had been deposited by the tide on the wet sand. Dark, dead leaves swirled and settled around a boat that looked like it had docked on the beach five years before, and never left. The water too looked dirty, the foam of the small waves that crashed on the beach the color of beer. The promenade itself was not half as populated as she remembered it. The short trees bordering the walkway provided little shade and had rooted themselves under the cement, creating small hills and crevices. From somewhere in the trees came the eerie daytime hooting of owls."
" Half the restaurants had been shut down. The remaining ones displayed sick-looking fish on beds of crushed gray ice. With soiled rags, waiters shooed away mangy cats trolling for food. A sprinkling of tourists speaking German sat outside cafes', their skin sunburned to a peculiar shade of orange."
The highlights of Yvonne's days are meeting up with little boy who sells seashells. He does not speak English. She spends time thinking about her life and her relationship with her children, especially Auerelia, who she had a strained relationship with, as she spent years in and out of rehab.
The Lovers is a story that reminds the reader how life is very much a journey. The ending gave me hope that Yvonne would be able to move on. Regardless of your age, I think many readers will be able to connect with Yvonne, as I did. The writing is sparse but reflective, and the pages of this short 225 novel turned quickly. If you were expecting a romance novel, from the title of this one, you'll have to look elsewhere ~~~ this title is misleading, thank goodness.
RECOMMENDED - 4.5/5 stars