The Lotus Eaters by first time novelist Tatjana Soli is a surprisingly good read. It is about Vietnam which is a hard sell to some. Several book club members did not read it which truly is their loss.
The story revolves around Helen, a naive college student, who drops out to go to Vietnam when the war is in its beginning stages. Over several years she becomes an award-winning photojournalist. Sam Darrow, her mentor/competitor is also her lover and draws her more and more into the darkness of this beautiful and mysterious country. Their friend and co-worker eventually becomes her lover after Sam is killed and Saigon is falling.
The author is never heavy handed in her descriptions of the war but evokes the changing atmosphere as the war escalates. Her research is extensive but the reader is swept up in the story and never feels this is a history lesson. The author has said that she based Helen on a compilation of several actual women. For additional information the reader may be interested in learning more about Dickey Chapelle, one of the first female war correspondents in Vietnam.
Goodreads says "Tatjana Soli paints a searing portrait of an American woman's struggle and triumph in Vietnam, a stirring canvas contrasting the wrenching horror of war and the treacherous narcotic of obsession with the redemptive power of love. Readers will be transfixed by this stunning novel of passion, duty and ambition among the ruins of war." Well said.
The Lotus Eaters is definitely a fine selection for book clubs and others wanting an alternative to light summer reading.