THE SCENT OF PINE                            LARA VAPNYAR
Posted:  Jan. 16, 2014

The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar Throughout her acclaimed, award-winning career, novelist Lara Vapnyar has consistently impressed critics with her striking honesty, empathy, and humor & yet never before have Vapnyar's talents been as perfectly matched or shone as brightly as in her captivating latest novel, The Scent of Pine.

Though Lena is only thirty-eight, she finds herself in the grip of a midlife crisis. She feels out of place in her adoptive country, her career has stalled, and her marriage has tumbled into a spiral of apathy and distrust it seems impossible she will ever find happiness again. But then she meets Ben, a failed artist turned reluctant academic, who is just as lost as she is. They strike up a precarious friendship and soon surprise themselves by embarking on an impulsive weekend adventure.

On the drive to Ben's remote cabin in Maine, Lena begins to open up, for the first time in her life, about the tumultuous summer she spent as a counselor in a Soviet children's camp twenty years earlier, when she was just discovering romance and her own sexuality. At a time when Russia itself was in turmoil, the once-placid world of the camp was growing equally unsettled, with unexplained disappearances and mysterious goings-on among the staff; Lena and her best friend are haunted by what they witnessed, or failed to witness, and by the fallout from those youthful relationships. It was a time of intense emotions, confusion, and passions, and ultimately very little turned out to be exactly as it seemed.

As Lena reveals to Ben secrets she has long kept hidden, the lovers begin to discover together not only the striking truths buried in her past, but also more immediate lessons about the urgency of this short, stolen time they have together.

A stirring, sexy, and breathtaking novel with an unforgettable twist, The Scent of Pine is both a poignant love story and a provocative tale of loneliness, longing, youthful romanticism, and the fickle nature of desire.

The main character in this story is named Lena and she is at a convention of sorts of soviet writers, poets, artists and other people waiting to share or find out more about the Soviet life. Lena is by herself on this trip, her husband and two boys are back in California visiting his parents. As she meets some of the people, a few of the more the more well-known people she knows having grown up together. She begins to look back on her life and mostly on one summer where most of them were camp counselors at a soviet teenager camp for a summer. She decides to leave and meets a man who is also leaving and tells here he could give her a ride to Boston. He is going to Maine so it is on the way. She agrees and they strike up a conversation and by the time they get to Boston she decides to go to Maine with him. Once there she starts talking about her time at this camp and different memories, he talks about when he was married but mostly listens. He then shares with her a book that he came across a few years back and it turns out was written by one of the young boys at the camp and it answered some of the questions she had from that time. This is a book about her trying to figure out her past but also where and what she wants to do with her future as well. A good story a little slow in some places but overall ok, I got this book from net galley.

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