Friday, January 24, 2014

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

The rocks glow red above the sea, embers of the day’s heat below our balcony at the Hotel Marie.

Down here, on the southern rim of the country, out of the mistral’s slipstream, the evening drops like viscous liquid: slow and heavy and silent. When we first arrived, the stifling sultriness made sleep impossible; night closed in like the lid of a tomb.
Now, in the few hours I do sleep, I dream of all we have left behind: the hamlet on the hill and the whispering trees. Then, with a start, I'm awake again, remembering.
Until it happens to you, you don’t know how it will feel to stay with a man who has done a terrible thing. Not to know whether the worst has happened or is yet to come; wanting so badly to trust him now.


Title: The Lantern
Author: Deborah Lawrenson
ISBN: 9780062049698
Publisher: Orion Books/2011
Pages: 341

Some might feel the prose as overwritten but I felt that the rich and detailed prose totally sets the mood of the novel. Lush it is, lyrical it is not. And after a few pages, it draws us in. 

The narrator has fallen in love with Dom, who composes musician. He seems to be rich. Dom calls her Eve. Soon after they both move to Provence, Les Genévriers. It seems to be falling apart yet Eve loves the house. She can feel someone being always present in that house.
Dom is not comfortable taking about his first wife, Rachel. But Sabine, a local woman, wants Eve to talk about Rachel with Dom. She has her own reasons. Somehow the stay in Les Genévriers does not seem conducive for both but they are reluctant to acknowledge that fact. Then three local girls go missing. And two bodies are found in the grounds of Les Genévriers while landscaping for a garden. Who bodies are those?

A parallel story is about Bénédicte Lincel, who had lived all her life in that house. She is the other narrator, an old woman, and she sees ghosts in the form of her evil brother Pierre and older sister Marthe, a blind perfumer, who had disappeared from her life abruptly. The blindness is symbolic too, in a way. The Lincel family is blind to the faults of the sadist Pierre. 

The novel goes forward by alternate narration by Eve and Bénédicte Lincel. Both the story lines seem unconnected but it all unravels in the end. The Lantern has some supernatural elements, just right for my taste. There are many flaws but it is what makes the novel interesting. It has the right amount of Gothic element.

In many review, I read that, The Lantern gives us a strong feeling about being similar to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I did not think so. Rachel is nothing like Rebecca. And the only similarity is that in both novels, the narrators are unnamed. 


Vonnie said...

It makes me wonder why people see a similarity to Rebecca...

My post

Hazel Lee said...

When I read the first part of your review, I instantly thought of Rebecca too. Perhaps Rachel is nothing like Rebecca, but the whole setting of The Lantern sounds remarkably similar to Rebecca. Makes me curious to read it now! =) Thanks for sharing!

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian said...

The language is beautiful and somewhat mysterious. I am going to look through my book piles because I think I have a copy of this.

My Friday post:

carol said...

This has been on my to-read list for a while, but somehow I never quite get around to it. I like the beginning.

Elisa @ Leopards and Dragons said...

Definitely an evocative beginning. I will have to keep an eye out for this one.

JC Jones said...

Great beginning. One I would listen to not read.

Sandra Nachlinger said...

The opening sentences definitely set the mood, but I wasn't grabbed until I read "stay with a man who has done a terrible thing." That made me curious! This sounds like a book that's worth reading.
Here's the link to my Friday post: PICTURING PERFECT.

Unknown said...

I agree with you that the prose is beautiful. Great Review you have peeked my interest.

Cheryl said...

Very interesting. I like the eloquent prose used here.

Thanks for stopping by The Busy Mom's Daily.

Juli Rahel said...

This might sounds weird but the prose sounds incredibly sensual to me! Perhaps it has something to do with one of the characters being blind, but I like it! I haven't read 'Rebecca', but the 'second wife' trope might be similar. Here's my Friday post and I hope you have a good weekend :)
Juli @ Universe in Words

fredamans said...

The way it is written is what pulls me in! I am taken away and wanting more!

Happy weekend!

Yvonne said...

This looks like an interesting read!

RuthB said...

I like the way it starts, it sounds like something I would read
great choice

Kathy Martin said...

I also like the way the book starts. This isn't a genre I read or buy but, if someone gave me a copy, I would probably read it -- someday. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Happy reading!

Ricki Treleaven said...

I absolutely loved The Lantern! :D Wonderful review, and I do see the similarities between it and Rebecca.

Anonymous said...

it thought the beginning could be more catchy and grabbing, but that's just me

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to read this one for awhile.