Review: The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

October 12, 2015 | RRP $27.99

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty Cover

Ready for something a little unusual?

The unnamed protagonist of this novel finds herself stranded in Casablanca. She is robbed while checking in to her dubious hotel, The Golden Tulip, which leaves her in a foreign country without her passport, laptop and money. So begins THE DIVER’S CLOTHES LIE EMPTY by Vendela Vida, the award winning author of five books.

Identity and loss are the engines that drive this story forward. We learn that the protagonist is a fraternal twin and that she is escaping something that happened in Florida, something that involves her husband. We wonder at some of the choices she makes, especially when she decides to take the identification documents the Casablancan Police Chief suspiciously offers her, and credit cards that are clearly not hers. From this moment we know her as Sabine Aylse, though her name is a fluid thing and perhaps representative of the internal search for a new place in her changed world.

In any case, it is this key moment that sets in motion a rather eccentric and entertaining chain of events, fake identities and offbeat opportunities that bring the protagonist, ironically, closer to the truth in herself. Though she flees her past, she can never outrun it and as time passes the events that led to her trip unfurl. The truth, when it is finally revealed is significant, and brings richer understanding of the story that has come before.

This is a complex and thought provoking read, written in second person, which can be both intimate and distancing. On the surface, the story is entertaining and absurd, at times funny, a slow burn mystery. But there is also a deeper story of betrayal, loss, coping and reinvention, of living in the moment while being trapped by the past and desperately trying to break free, to forge a way forward that can be accepted. These complexities are what make this novel interesting and different without sacrificing entertainment and readability.

Get your friends to read it and lively discussion will follow!

© 2015 Melissa Sargent