Diver's Clothes Lie Empty

  • by Vendela Vida
  • Narrated by Xe Sands
  • 5 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A chance encounter with a movie producer leads to a job posing as a stand-in for a well-known film star. The star reels her in deeper, though, and soon she's inhabiting the actress' skin off-set, too - going deeper into the Casablancan night and further from herself. And so continues a strange and breathtaking journey full of unexpected turns, an adventure in which the woman finds herself moving further and further away from the person she once was.
Told with vibrant, lush detail and a wicked sense of humor, The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty is part literary mystery, part psychological thriller - an unforgettable novel that explores free will, power, and a woman's right to choose not her past, perhaps not her present, but certainly her future. This is Vendela Vida's most assured and ambitious novel yet.

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Moving On

The name, The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty,
comes from a Rumi poem which basically deals with becoming something else… moving beyond “the sad edge of surf” to the “sound of no shore” – moving beyond earthly sorrows and into…. something else. That is what the book is about: change.

"The Diver’s Clothes Lying Empty"

"You are sitting here with us,
but you are also out walking in a field at dawn.
You are yourself the animal we hunt
when you come with us on the hunt.
You are in your body
like a plant is solid in the ground,
yet you are wind.
You are the diver’s clothes
lying empty on the beach.
You are the fish.
In the ocean are many bright strands
and many dark strands like veins that are seen
when a wing is lifted up.
Your hidden self is blood in those,
those veins that are lute strings
that make ocean music,
not the sad edge of surf
but the sound of no shore."
Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks


And the cover art refers, also, to becoming something else, referring to a passage at the very end of the book: “ You see an intricate keyhole-shaped arch that leads into the ruins of the royal palace. …You watch as one woman enters through the arch, and another exits.” More references to becoming someone or something else, since the main character begins as one woman and ends as another.

I loved how the author has one character discuss the theory of “radical evolution,” which is basically evolution forced by a change in circumstance, and how it then ends up applying to the woman in the story, and how it could apply to any of us. Again, change is the main idea here.

Also having to do with the idea of change is the way clothing plays a part in the main character’s identity. The author challenges the reader to think about how clothing defines us.

I found myself thinking of the main character in The Woman Upstairs. Both that woman and the protagonist in this book feel invisible, and both are devoted to people who mis-use them. In the same way as in The Woman Upstairs, people online are criticizing the protagonist for her poor choices. I find that idea misguided, since the whole point is not the quality of her choices, but how she changes as the book progresses. I loved the protagonist, in spite of her choices. The beauty of the book is how Vida makes those choices believable to the reader. Even if I wouldn’t make those choices, the reader becomes convinced that the woman in this book would - even when they are poor choices.

I did guess what is revealed at the very end: what the protagonist’s sister had done to her back home in her past life. But I did NOT guess the very end in Morocco. I WAS dying to find out! The author did a great job of building suspense. I actually thought MAYBE the protagonist would end up with a certain businessman, BUT that would have been way too sappy and overly romantic and wouldn’t fit with the idea of growth and change, so I’m actually glad it didn’t happen that way.

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- KP "There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson"

Second person narrator

You download a book that you saw mentioned in the paper. Over the course of the next few days you listen to this book. You wonder if the entire story will be told in second person narration. You hope not because you find it irritating. You are disappointed that in fact it does use the pronoun you to tell the entire story. You are also disappointed that the story ends after disclosing the main character's full situation (you) but not resolving it.
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- Sharon

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-02-2015
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books