The Lotus Eaters (novel)

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The Lotus Eaters
Author Tatjana Soli
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Publication date
Pages 389
ISBN ISBN 978-0-312-61157-6
OCLC 456171361

The Lotus Eaters (2010) is an award-winning novel by Tatjana Soli.[1][2][3][4] It tells the story of an American woman, Helen Adams, who goes to Vietnam to cover the war as a combat photojournalist and love triangle with two men. It was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.[5]


The novel tells the story of a love triangle between three people during the Vietnam War in 1967 to 1976 about love, obsession and betrayal. Helen Adams's brother served as a combat photographer in Vietnam. After his death, she decided to followed her brother's footsteps despite her mother's protests. After she came to Vietnam, Helen met her mentor Samuel Andre Darrow who is famous prize-winning photographer in the war and she began to have feelings for him but was smooted by Sam's Vietnamese assistant Linh who was an ex-soldier and playwright whose tragic past includes losing his family by war. Helen and Linh are closer and Sam become Linh's love rival. Both Linh and Helen struggled for two counties and trials they faced include Sam's death


  • Helen Adams: An American woman who dreams of becoming a photographer for Life Magazine. Her father and brother Michael were soldiers. Dropping out of college due to Michael's death, Helen decided to go Vietnam and fell in love with Sam Darrow, however the relationship was tested by a love triangle and also Sam's problems and behavior. After Darrow's death, Helen marries his assistant, Linh, and becomes his second wife. In the end, she reunited with Linh in Cambodia and was nicknamed "Helen of Saigon" by the Vietnamese people
  • Nguyen Pran Linh: Helen's husband and Ex-soldier, Linh was son of Hanoi professor who fled from North Vietnam and was forced as spy . Linh's first wife, Mai, died while pregnant with the couple's first child. He was saved by Sam Darrow while in jail and became his assistant. Shortly after, he met Helen Adams, Sam's protégé and lover, in which he and Sam became rivals for her affection. After Sam's death, Helen becomes his second wife. He is an aspiring playwright and his real name is Tran Bau Linh.
  • Samuel Andre Darrow  : Nicknamed as Sam, he was Helen's mentor and a famous photographer of Hungarian heritage. His real name is Sam Koropec and he had left his country at 15. His father-in-law is head of the newspaper and he is married to Lily. He was beginning to fall in love with Helen, but was killing in a helicopter crash. Due to Sam's drinking, Helen and Lihn became closer. Sam knew that Linh loved Helen.
  • Robert: A friend of Sam's who jokes about Helen being Sam's girlfriend and has feelings for Annick.
  • Annick : A woman who befriends Helen and dates Robert. She owns a store that Helen frequents.
  • Tran Bau Ca : Linh's older brother was killed along with his family.
  • Matt Tanner : A marine who tried raped Helen before she beat him.
  • Michael Adams: Helen's older brother who was killed as soldier and Michael is animal lover who saved a puppy's life
  • Mai : Linh's first wife who died by war when she pregnant with their child
  • Captain Olsen: An American army officer
  • Jerry Nichols: USAID worker who had Vietnamese gilfriend
  • Mai: a widow of two children whom Ngan felling in love
  • Ngah: a young traveller and guide who falling in love with a widow
  • Tran Bin Thao: Linh's brother who hides feelings for Lan from his brother and married then expected their first child together
  • Lan:Mai's sister who crushed on Linh although he never return to her. She begged Helen to give her camera but she refused then she apologized Helen return from Vietnam. She married Thao and carrying their child going named Mai after her sister
  • Taon: Linh's brother in law and Mai and Lan's brother
  • Mr Bao : Linh's boss who actually sells drugs to foreigners
  • Gary: Helen's boss also for Sam
  • Lily Darrow: Sam's ex-wife who blames Helen for his death in Saigon
  • Charlotte Adams:Helen's and Michael's mother her husband went Korean War and her son went to Vientnam War who met Lihn as her son-in-law in end of novel
  • Mrs Xuan: Lihn's neighbour who attended Lihn's and Helen's wedding


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet (March 29, 2010). "Learning About War Through a Camera Lens". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Hamilton, Masha (April 3, 2010). "Book review: "The Lotus Eaters," by Tatjana Soli". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Trussoni, Danielle (April 4, 2010). "The Vietnam Wars: ‘The Lotus Eaters'". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Ciuraru, Carmela (March 30, 2010). "A woman in a war, amid the damage". The Boston Globe. 
  5. ^ "Dazzling tale of Ms Saigon takes top award". The Scotsman. August 20, 2011. 

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