Title: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
Publisher: Harper 2011
Genre: literary fiction, suspense
Source: ARC for review from TLC Book Tours
Objective rating: 4.75/5
About the book: There two stories intertwined, one from the past and one in the present, both set in Les Genevriers, a hamlet in the hills of Provence, France. In the present is the love story of the young writer Eve and an older man, Dom, who come to live in Les Genevriers and gradually discover the secrets of the old house and the story of the people who used to live there.
One of the former occupants was a young blind girl, Marthe, who was known for her perceptive sense of smell and her knowledge of the plants and flowers that grow in the region. After becoming a famous creator of new perfumes in Paris and at the height of her success, Marthe suddenly disappears, never to be heard from again. We learn from the writings of her sister Benedicte, who stayed on at the house, what went on with the family during those early times.
But Eve and Dom have their own troubles in the present. Eve discovers that Dom has haunting secrets from his past that trouble him, which he is unwilling to share with her. Between dealing with the ghosts from the past, including a mysterious glowing lantern that appears during the night on the path to the house, and those of the present, Eve finds herself trying to assess her safety and the reality of her life at Les Genevriers.
Comments: I had heard that the writer of The Lantern had based her story on Daphne du Maurier's classic novel, Rebecca, which I had read more than once plus seen the black and white film several times. I began reading The Lantern with a bit of trepidation, dreading a meeting with the equivalent of Mrs. Danvers, the villain in Rebecca, whom I didn't want to meet again in another book.
Imagine my pleasant surprise, no Mrs. Danvers, though there is at least one very frightening character from the past and some hinted at in the present. Lawrenson's book does not follow Rebecca too closely, as I had imagined it might, and the plot is a new one, all its own, except for a few resemblances of Dom to Maxim in Rebecca, and the innocent character of Maxim's young wife to The Lantern's main character, Eve.
The novel is beautifully written and the plot is original and suspenseful. Lawrenson has written a novel of mystery as well as a romance. Her writing is full of poetic and lyrical descriptions of Provence and the countryside. That in itself is worth reading the book for, but add the mystery of Marthe from the past and Eve's love story in the present, and that gives two more reasons for liking the novel.
her website and her blog.
For other reviews of the book on the TLC tour, see The Lantern reviews.
Source: An ARC of the novel was provided by the publisher for TLC Book Tours. My rating and review of the book are objective and not influenced by my receiving a free copy for review.
© Harvee Lau 2011