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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"The Lantern" by Deborah Lawrenson ~ Far Cry from Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca"

Published by: Harper Collins
Pages: 383
Genre: Fiction, Suspense


A modern gothic novel of love, secrets, and murder—set against the lush 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?

About the Author :

Deborah Lawrenson grew up in Kuwait, China, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Singapore. She studied English at Cambridge University and has worked as a journalist for various publications in England, including the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, and Woman’s Journal magazine. She lives in Kent, England, and she and her family spend as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, France, the setting for The Lantern.

Provence ~ Stone Pillars/Carvings

The Dame's Impression's :

I’m having such a difficult time with this book. I’ve wanted to love it after all the hype, but it’s difficult. First, I’m turned off by the author’s trying so hard to be cultured and elegant, or making much of it. Maybe it’s our American up-bringing, but isn’t understatement preferable? So much seems contrived and overdone. It made the book move very slowly.

Also, the scents seem to permeate the story too much–no pun intended, and they often don’t make sense; the combinations she expresses are improbable. That's giving lenience for the symbolic, even! I grew so tired of hearing about them in every other paragraph. Fragrances need to be dabbed here and there to have the right impact, don’t you think? Just so in literature; they would have a bigger impact sparingly used.

It’s also a cardinal rule in literature that when an author focuses too much on description and not enough on characterization, the book will not be a good one. Is it me, or is there just too much description here? For instance, we can’t possibly know or understand Dom, the primary male protagonist, because there’s been very little character development.

Hamlet in Provence ~ Antique/Refurbished
What may be the biggest issue is that the author spent a great deal of time describing what I believe she sees out the window and inside of her “crumbling hamlet in Provence, France.” (From her bio. on the book cover we find that she lives there as much as possible.) In the novel, you can really see that she's inspired by her surroundings, but the story she's telling seems adjunct to that. This makes for a painfully slow and uninteresting story with tension and suspense that is much too drawn out.

A true story about her love of Provence, her hamlet, gardens and lower cellar would have been ever so much more exotic and interesting. It's the trying to create a story around those descriptions that makes this novel fail, to me. Provence, her hamlet, it's rennovations and discoveries would make a fascinating non-fiction account.

Hamlet Provence ~ Garden Gate
I’m worried that Ms Lawrenson has tried so hard to write a modern version of “Rebecca” that it’s fallen flat. I’m sad about it. I’m struggling to want to read this novel. I struggling to finish it because I don't like giving up. It's difficult. It would be great to have a contemporary novel in the vein of "Rebecca," but sometimes one simply can't compete with the classics. Those who hyped a comparison weren't helping Ms Lawrenson.

So far, 3 struggling stars scented by woodland violets in apple wine infusion with a hint of ash from a long-awaited crackling fire, dripping with lasting notes of a salamander's foot crossing the moss that once laid lightly on mist-drenched, mountain wood.

Deborah/TheBookishDame :[



I am sorry you aren't enjoying this one. I was nervous about the Rebecca comparisons, but in the end I thought The Lantern, while it was certainly influenced bu its predecessor, was good in its own right.


You are the first to say you didn't care for this book so much. That's interesting. I got this book at the BEA and have been anxious to read it, just haven't had the time. I love Provence (spent a summer there a long time ago), and that was the draw. Thanks for another fine review.


Hi Deb, me again. I'd like to give you a Versatile Blogger Award! You don't have to accept/post about it if you wish not to, it's just my way of showing how much I enjoy reading your blog! You can read about the award on my blog. Keep up the fantastic work!

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