A modern gothic novel of love, secrets, and murder - set against thelush backdrop of Provence.
Meeting Dom was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me. When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, their whirlwind relationship leads them to Les GenÉvriers, an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields of the South of France. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern. Deeply in love and surrounded by music, books, and the heady summer scents of the French countryside, Eve has never felt more alive.
But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Though Eve knows he bears the emotional scars of a failed marriage - one he refuses to talk about - his silence arouses suspicion and uncertainty. The more reticent Dom is to explain, the more Eve becomes obsessed with finding answers - and with unraveling the mystery of his absent, beautiful ex-wife, Rachel.
Like its owner, Les GenÉvriers is also changing. Bright, warm rooms have turned cold and uninviting; shadows now fall unexpectedly; and Eve senses a presence moving through the garden. Is it a ghost from the past or a manifestation of her current troubles with Dom? Can she trust Dom, or could her life be in danger?
Eve does not know that Les GenÉvriers has been haunted before. BÉnÉdicte Lincel, the house’s former owner, thrived as a young girl within the rich elements of the landscape: the violets hidden in the woodland, the warm wind through the almond trees. She knew the bitter taste of heartbreak and tragedy - long-buried family secrets and evil deeds that, once unearthed, will hold shocking and unexpected consequences for Eve.
©2011 Deborah Lawrenson (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
This book courted me. It was love at first sight as I wandered the bookshelves of Borders (when Borders still existed). I picked it up, turned it over, read the back, read the first page, and knew instantly I would love it, but I didn’t buy it. I downloaded a sample to my Nook (so I could read the first 30 or so pages) just to be certain I would love it. Over the next year or so, I read little more than the first page, but I read the first page over and over again with the same thought: this is a book I am going to love. Therefore, the conditions under which I read it had to be perfect.
That time never came.
It wasn’t until I needed a new audio-book, that I finally accepted the luring of this novel. I began to listen on a 3 mile run – into the sunset and then back into the starry night. The perfect conditions presented themselves. I had found a new love.
The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson is a Gothic tale of romance, family, secrets, regret, and the power of scent and memories. It is also a very eloquent ghost story. It is chillingly similar to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. But this isn’t fan-fiction, quite the opposite in fact. The crafting of Lawrenson’s story rivals Kate Morton (a favorite author of mine), and in some respects, I say she outperforms Morton. The language of this book reached my soul, in the same way as Jane Eyre, and Jamaica Inn. Lawrenson’s words are art.
I have a friend who says she can’t stand to read a book that “takes 3 pages to describe the color blue”. This is one of those books. Lawrenson describes color, scent, and flowers in great detail. I happen to love this aspect of The Lantern because I was transported into the story – I could see, touch, and smell everything. As I ran, that first night, to the first chapters of this book, I could have swore I smelled lavender. But if you are like my friend and need the author to tell you, simply: “it was blue”, then this may not be the book for you.
The Lantern merges two stories and two generations of women – Eve, a modern day women drawn to the embrace of an older man, and Bénédicte, who lived in the very house in which Eve now lives during WWII, and worked in the nearby lavender fields. Eve and Bénédicte have never met, but they are inextricably tied to each other by Les Genevriers, a charming farmhouse that holds generations of secrets. It is set in the South of France, and Lawrenson does an excellent job of creating a timeless setting; it isn’t muddled with modern technology, or things and people that anchor a book to the year in which it was written. Readers will connect with this book as well in 2032 as they will in 2012.
The danger in writing from alternating points of view is that the reader will favor one voice, one story, over the other. I loved both Eve and Bénédicte, and understood and empathized with each of them. Each woman struggles with ghosts from the past, some literal, others figurative. Suspicion is prevalent throughout this novel, much in the style of Alfred Hitchcock.
Eve is living at Les Genevriers with Dom, a man who, as much as she is in love with, carries a secret that threatens to ruin their relationship. Dom refused to talk about his previous marriage, of Rachel, his wife. Eve makes a friend in town, a woman who knew Rachel, and who confirms Eve’s suspicions about Dom, and Rachel. Then the bodies of two women are discovered buried beneath the concrete of the old pool they had been restoring, throwing them – specifically Dom – into an center of an investigation. Curiosity, or rather a desperate need to know, leads Eve to push harder and ask questions. It is these questions that provoke the past into the present.
Bénédicte, who is an old woman as she tells her story, lived at Les Genevriers with her family. Her sister Marta achieves great success, although blind, and becomes renowned for making exquisite perfumes. Their brother Pierre is troubled, taunting the girls endlessly in their youth. Tradgedy befalls the family one by one, and Bénédicte becomes the only survivor to the family name. She wonders what she could have done differently to save those she’d loved. Bénédicte dies without ever knowing why her beloved sister left and never spoke to her again.
As Eve’s suspicions of Dom grow, and her investigation of Rachel deepens, she stumbles upon what Rachel had been researching when she was last seen at Les Genevriers – this history of Marthe Lincel, and why Marthe all but disappeared at the very height of her career.
I am giving this book 5 stars. It is beautifully written, a book I can not wait to re-read, and lend-able to all ages. This story has changed me, and remains with me still, days after I finished – in the same way The House at Riverton did. Actually, I have not been able to begin a new book because, right now, nothing will measure up. It has also made me as sure as ever that this statement is true: books find their readers, often times it is just when they need them.
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The readers were awesome!!!! This was a good story that kept me glued. I really loved the readers!!
The story was set in Provence and went from present day to an earlier day. An engaging story. Mysterious but not scary. Enjoyed the women's voices.
The discovery of the bodies, as it was a turning point in the story.
Soft and delicate; easy to listen to.
I don't think the book jacket should compare this novel to Du Maurier's writing. Readers are simply reminded that they should stick with Rebecca.
This book did not shock or interest me very much. Pretty predictable.
very solid interpretation.
Yes and I'd expect something pretty and middle-of-the-road like Water for Elephants.
Narrators Gerrianne Raphael, Kristine Ryan were new to me and did a good job though at times the French accents got a little thick.
This book started out a little slow for me and really didn’t grab me until half way in, I did like the gothic feel and the reveal of all the different secrets well most of the secrets I’m still confused how the murders of the young women in the present fit in with the story.
I liked this book however there was just something that didn’t quite click I can’t out my finger on it
This book was rated very high by a book reviewer so I was eager to check it out. I was warned that it moved slow but was worth it. I kind of disagree. It was slow with no great revelation for me. I felt like the writer led you to believe there was some great mystery but in the end it wasn't at all. The Lantern wasn't a key factor in the story at all to warrant the title. I didn't feel the chemistry between Eve and Dom. It wasn't "horrible" at all but still won't be on my recommendation list.
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