Author: Deborah Lawrenson

Early Review – The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

April 17, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 1 Comment

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Sea Garden by Deborah LawrensonThe Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson
Published by Harper on June 24th 2014
Pages: 320
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Lantern

three-half-stars

Romance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellas-rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere-from the critically acclaimed author of The Lantern

THE SEA GARDEN
On the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden's owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian …

THE LAVENDER FIELD
Near the end of World War II, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life . . . and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.

A SHADOW LIFE
Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?

Ingeniously interconnected, this spellbinding triptych weaves three parallel narratives into one unique tale of love, mystery, and murder. The Sea Garden is a vivid and absorbing chronicle of love and loss in the fog of war-and a penetrating and perceptive examination of the impulses and circumstances that shape our lives.

‘In this present hour, there was time for anything to happen, endless time.’

The Sea Garden contains three separate novellas that slowly intertwine together. The first novella shares the name of the title and is set in present day. The second and third novellas are all centered around the WWII era.

I became an instant fan of Deborah Lawrenson’s after her debut novel, ‘The Lantern‘ completely mesmerized me with its Rebecca-esque gothic story. It was clear she had a talent for the written word and I’ve been anxiously awaiting a new book from her. The Sea Garden presents a somewhat full-length novel, broke up into seemingly separate stories but have more in common than assumed. The Sea Garden novella is the present day story which brings to life a young woman named Ellie who is hired to construct a new WWII Memorial Garden. Her short visit is a disturbing one after the mother of the man that hired her is unkindly to her and after she believes to have seen ghosts in the Garden. The real heart of the story comes in the WWII stories that have an unexpected impact on Ellie’s life even after all that time has passed.

‘Thy word is a lantern unto my feet: and a light unto my path.’

I recognized and enjoyed the authors skillful writing yet found this story lacking in comparison to its predecessor. I found The Sea Garden to be for the most part too convoluted and lacking a clear and concise ending that wrapped up all loose ends. The affinity between the three tales was a little too slack and wasn’t as solid of a connection as I would expect with a multi-narrative tale such as this. Also, the odd supernatural aspects felt superfluous and too extravagant of an addition to this basic tale of history and its effects on everyone it touches. The writing was most pleasing but I would have appreciated this story more if the three novellas had stood on their own without the compulsory connection between them.

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Book Review – The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

September 3, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Lantern by Deborah LawrensonThe Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
Published by Harper on August 9, 2011
Pages: 400
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Sea Garden

four-half-stars

Set in the lush countryside of Provence, Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern is an atmospheric modern gothic tale of love, suspicion, and murder, in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. Drawn to a wealthy older man, Eve embarks on a whirlwind romance that soon offers a new life and a new home—Les Genévriers, a charming hamlet amid the fragrant lavender fields of Provence. But Eve finds it impossible to ignore the mysteries that haunt both her lover and the run-down old house. The more reluctant Dom is to tell her about his past, the more she is drawn to it—and to the mysterious disappearance of his beautiful ex-wife. An evocative tale of romantic and psychological suspense, The Lantern masterfully melds past and present, secrets and lies, appearances and disappearances—along with our age-old fear of the dark.

The Lantern is a superbly written and beautiful story that is completely enthralling. I found it hard to put down because the mystery of the story is so fascinating. I found the author’s writing style to be quite wordy at first, but each description causes the scene to unfold as if you were actually experiencing it. I’ve incorporated several lines from the story itself to add some of that descriptiveness to my review and because they were some of my favorite quotes.

The story is about the relationship between Eve and Dom and the life they build together. From the beginning of the story you’re involved in their troubled relationship and the internal conflict that Eve is currently having. Not all is revealed, you’re only given bits and pieces, but it’s quite captivating.

‘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.’

The couple purchases a rural house in the south of France and immediately feels that this was all meant to be somehow.

‘The property drew us in immediately. Not love at first sight, exactly, not as explosive as that: more a
deep, promising undertow, as if it had been waiting for us, and we for it.’

As much as they love the property, the more time they spend there the more the uneasiness begins to set in.

‘The longer we stayed, the less it seemed to belong to us.’

When Eve sees an apparition of a woman on the property, her mind is unable to fully comprehend what she had just seen.

‘Everyone wants answers and tidy conclusions, but in life they don’t always materialize. You settle for the best outcome you can manage, and accept that you can’t explain everything. The subconscious mind sometimes makes surreal connections, like the ones in dreams. Tricks of the light were all around.’

As the story continues, the story begins switching back and forth between the past and the present, between Eve and Bénédicte. Bénédicte is a young woman who in the past used to live in the same house that Eve and Dom currently reside at. The past and the present ultimately collide and the revelation behind all the constant mystery is quite intriguing.

Throughout the story the author constantly keeps your interest as she’ll throw you a tid bit here and there about what may be potentially going on, but will leave it at that, a simple sentence. This is a great novel to do as a read along (speaking from personal experience as I read this with another) because there is an enormous amount of information that is easier to sort out if you’re able to discuss with someone.

The books ending wrapped all the questions culminated throughout reading this book quite nicely even though it ended up being not quite what I had originally thought.

‘All of which goes to show how dangerous it is to assume connections where there are none, to link events that have no link, to want tidy storytelling when real life is not like that, to draw too much on the imagination when it is so often misleading.’

Lovely novel.

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