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The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

The Lantern (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Deborah Lawrenson

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4415423,785 (3.57)50
Title:The Lantern
Authors:Deborah Lawrenson
Info:Orion Publishing Group (2011), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson (2011)

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I love gothic tales so when I stumbles across this one - with is captivating cover and an author quote that it is "Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier's classic [Rebecca]" - I figured this would be a good rainy day kind of read. The story has a slow build to it - at times, a painfully slow build - and Lawrenson's use of pronouns when she shifts the story narration from Eve in the present to Benedicte in the past left me in a bit of a muddle at times with the story and its overall direction. It seemed to just ebb and swirl, dancing around a mystery of mysteries not to be named or openly discussed. That was frustrating, at least for the first 2/3 of the book. Yes, it drags the reader around that long. Lawrenson spends a lot of time describing the story thorough the olfactory senses, which works well for the perfume angle of the story but seems a bit much when she is setting the scene or building the atmosphere of the story. What did work was the last 1/3 of the story and it worked so well that I am willing to forgive Lawrenson the slow, meandering build that it took to get us there. Sometimes, the view at the top of the hill is worth all of the struggle and effort to climb the hill to see it. Lawrenson shows promise with this debut novel for writing an atmospheric, gothic tale that creeps up on you. I still don't see the [Rebecca] angle but since I wasn't a big fan of [Rebecca] as a spellbinding gothic story, that reflects positively on this story by Lawrenson.

Overall, a slow build that takes a level of concentration to stay on top of the rapid shifting points of view while you collect the pieces of the mystery, but the ending does reward you for persevering. ( )
1 vote lkernagh | Jul 27, 2015 |
Wonderful descriptions of Provence, the deep scents of lavender, sage, rosemary, lush fruit, along with the heat, the sun, the winds, the blue or stormy sky. The story took a back seat to feel of the place for me, but those senses were worth reading the book. Every time I put it down I was surprised to find that I wasn't sunburned. ( )
  nhlsecord | Nov 1, 2014 |
I had read a few reviews that compared this book with Rebecca which is one of my favorite books. There were some small similarities which appeared to be intentional since she made reference to the novel Rebecca. The Lantern wanted to be a great gothic novel but was really just average. ( )
  bibliophile_pgh | Aug 7, 2014 |
this was a good spooky ghost story, but I'm just not the gothic, setting-orientated reader. I tend to skim large paragraphs of information, which also tends to get in the way of the author setting the mood. ( )
  bp0128bd | Jan 24, 2014 |
Though slow to start, once The Lantern gets going it is a fabulous gothic read that lands firmly in the territory of Jane Eyre and Rebecca, but with its own rich mystery drawing on the history and life in the French countryside. Lawrenson’s luscious prose skillfully builds tension throughout the novel and her heroine, Eve, is the perfect mix of naiveté and young woman struggling to navigate a world that is just a bit too sophisticated for her to grasp. ( )
  daniellnic | Sep 25, 2013 |
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Book description
When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom, their whirlwind relationship leads them to purchase Les Genevriers, an abandoned house in a rural hamlet in the south of France. As the beautiful Provence summer turns to autumn, Eve finds it impossible to ignore the mysteries that haunt both her lover and the run-down old house, in particular the mysterious disappearance of his beautiful first wife, Rachel. Whilst Eve tries to untangle the secrets surrounding Rachel's last recorded days, Les Genevriers itself seems to come alive. As strange events begin to occur with frightening regularity, Eve's voice becomes intertwined with that of Benedicte Lincel, a girl who lived in the house decades before. As the tangled skeins of the house's history begin to unravel, the tension grows between Dom and Eve. In a page-turning race, Eve must fight to discover the fates of both Benedicte and Rachel, before Les Genevriers' dark history has a chance to repeat itself.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0062049690, Hardcover)

Amazon Exclusive: A TALE OF PROVENCE: The story behind The Lantern

I’ve been having a love affair with Provence for more than 25 years. The light, the views, the colors, the heat—I find them all intoxicating. I went for the first time with the college boyfriend who would become my husband; his family had had a house in the Luberon for some twenty years. We finally bought our own property in France five years ago after my husband decided to give up banking and realize his long-held ambition to compose music.

“Les Genévriers” (not the property’s real name) is described in The Lantern more or less as we found it. Its setting is as accurate as I can make it without giving away its precise location. The Luberon area is one of the most sought-after locations in Provence, known for its hilltop villages, lavender, abundant fruit and clear bright light. It is the area Peter Mayle famously chronicled in A Year in Provence.

In addition to the abandoned farming hamlet, the story has its roots in the lavender fields and perfume industry in the region. There are small lavender fields and tiny family-run lavender distilleries all around where we live, but the main centers are to the north in Sault and, as described in the novel, to the east at Manosque and the Valensole plateau.

The idea of a blind perfumer came from the realization that there were strips of Braille on the packaging used by beauty product brand L’Occitane en Provence, based at Manosque. In 1997 the company created the foundation Provence dans tous les Sens (All the Senses of Provence) to introduce visually-impaired children to the world of perfume creation. In the novel, Marthe Lincel finds her true talent as a perfume “nose” after a visit to the Distillerie Musset from the school for the blind she attends in Manosque, although this episode takes place in the 1930s.

For most of the 20th century in this region, there was a gradual erosion of traditional farming as young people moved to the towns to seek work in the new industries and factories. The struggle was intense for those left behind on the hill farms in a region that was poor until the advent of mass tourism. In The Lantern, as Pierre--the only brother--takes off for better-paid work, and Marthe finds increasing success in Paris, this is the struggle faced by Bénédicte at “Les Genévriers”—and the past which gradually comes to disquiet Eve, the heroine of the contemporary narrative strand of the novel.

Like Eve, I am an avid reader and worryingly prone to over-imagination. While at the house our first summer, camping on stone floors, I re-read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and was as captivated by it as ever--but my thoughts wandered... what if I had come to this place knowing less about the area, or perhaps, less about the man I was with?

--Deborah Lawrenson

A Look Inside The Lantern
Click on the images below to open larger versions.

Lavender field in sunlight Garden door to the walnut wine cellar View from Gordes to the Luberon ridge A room with a view Side door into the alleyway

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:44 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Drawn to an older man, Eve embarks on a whirlwind romance that soon offers a new life and a new home--Les Genevriers, an old house in a charming hamlet amid the fragrant lavender fields of Provence. Their relationship becomes strained, however, as Dom grows quiet and distant and Eve feels a haunting presence. The more reluctant Dom is to tell her about his past, the more Eve is drawn to it--and to the mysterious disappearance of his beautiful ex-wife.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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