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Lotus Eaters


Lotus Eaters Cover

ISBN13: 9780312674441
ISBN10: 0312674449
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Questions

1) Soli pulled the novels title, The Lotus Eaters, from an episode in Homers The Odyssey and uses Homers description of the land of the lotus eaters as the novels opening epigraph. What connection do you see between Homers lotus eaters and the main characters of this novel? What, if anything, in this novel acts like the lotus described by Homer, so powerful and seductive it causes one to abandon all thoughts of home? Does each character have a different “lotus” that draws them in? How does the title illuminate the main themes of the novel?

2) The novel begins with the fall of Saigon, and then moves back in time twelve years to the beginning of the war. How do you think this structure contributed to your experience of the novel? Did this glimpse of Helen in 1975 influence how you related to her character at earlier points in her life? Did knowing the outcome affect your judgment of her actions and the action of those around her?

3) Helen makes a pivotal decision at the end of Chapter One—to send Linh on the plane and stay behind to “see it end.” Why does she make this decision? How did you feel about it? Did your feelings about it change over the course of the novel?

4) What does Helen think of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people when she first arrives in Saigon? How do her feelings evolve throughout the novel? How does this evolution affect how she comes to view the war and her role in it?

5) In Chapter Three, Darrow says, “The cool thing for us is that when this ones done, theres always another one. . . . The war doesnt ever have to end for us.” Why does he say this to Helen? What does it show about how Darrow views the war and about Darrow himself? When Helen repeats these words back to him in Chapter Eleven, how has their meaning changed?

6) In Chapter Nineteen, Helen believes that “Violence had poisoned them all . . . ” In what ways are Darrow, Helen, and Linh poisoned? What, if anything, keeps each of them from being destroyed by it?

7) Throughout the novel, Helen finds herself in love, and loved by, two very different men. How would you characterize each of her relationships? Did you prefer Helen in one relationship over the other? What are each relationships strengths and weaknesses? Which man do you ultimately believe is Helens great love?

8) Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Bravery and courage are frequently mentioned in the novel. In what ways do the various characters display these traits? In what ways do they fail?

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

bellreader, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by bellreader)
Though a novel, Lotus Eaters provides an eye-opening read about the Vietnam war through the eyes of a female photographer, a rarity in those times. One comes to see the war from a totally different viewpoint than we have experienced through the media or the viewpoints of soldiers who were there. It isn't a gentle read, but one that is well worth the time.
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stargish, September 20, 2011 (view all comments by stargish)
I recently had the opportunity to read Tatjana Soli's The Lotus Eaters while traveling in Cambodia. Her fine writing coupled with the up close and visceral experience of S.E. Asia will stay with me. It didn't seem like a coincidence when I turned the page to the chapter titled Angkor Wat, on the day we arrived in Siem Reap, the town nearest the temples. And when the monsoons rained down on the roof of the Tuk Tuk I rode in with my daughter, I was transported back to Post Colonial French Indochine. If you have an interest in S. E. Asia and its history or The Vietnam War, this narrative is compellingly and uniquely written from a feminine (and feminist perspective). I will read it again here in the dead of a dreary Northwest winter to see if I can revisit the magic.
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Abigail Elias, September 2, 2011 (view all comments by Abigail Elias)
The title, which refers to a passage in The Odyssey (which Soli quotes) in which Odysseus warns his men not to eat the lotus in a foreign land because they won't want to leave if they do - provides a sense of the theme. The story is centered on Helen Adams, a photo-journalist who goes to Vietnam during the war after her brother was killed in action there. The book follows her development and evolution as a photo-journalist, her relationships with other photo-jurnalists, with the soldiers she travels with in the field and with the various Vietnamese with whom she works, does trade or photographs. The depiction of the war over a period of time, through Helen's eyes, is raw and insightful. The narrative also addresses how and whether a journalists' photographs portray the reality of a situation. Assuming the story is well-based in fact, it may be tough to read for some who served in Vietnam during the war as soldier, nurse or journalist. Helen's relationships are woven into and are an integral part of the whole story.
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Product Details

Soli, Tatjana
Contemporary Women
Historical - General
War & Military
Literature-Contemporary Women
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Includes one black-and-white map
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Contemporary Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Military
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Lotus Eaters Used Trade Paper
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Product details 416 pages St. Martin's Griffin - English 9780312674441 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A unique and sweeping debut novel that follows an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men.
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