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.The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
Published by Harper on August 9, 2011
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Also by this author: The Sea Garden
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.’