The Lanternby Deborah Lawrenson
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… See more details below
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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.
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The LanternA Novel
By Deborah Lawrenson
HarperCopyright © 2011 Deborah Lawrenson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe rocks glow red above the sea, embers of the day's heat below
our balcony at the Hôtel Marie.
Down here, on the southern rim of the country, out of the mistral's
slipstream, the evening drops as viscous liquid: slow and heavy
and silent. When we first arrived, the stifling sultriness made sleep
impossible; night closed in like the lid of a tomb.
Now, in the few hours I do sleep, I dream of all we have left behind:
the hamlet on the hill and the whispering trees. Then, with a start, I'm
awake again, remembering.
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.
We cannot leave France, so, for want of anywhere better to go, we are
still here. When we first settled in, it was the height of summer. In
shimmering light, sleek white yachts etched diamond patterned
wakes on the inky blue playground and oiled bodies roasted on honey
gold sand. Jazz festivals wailed and syncopated along the coastline.
For us, days passed numberless and unnamed.
As the seasonal sybarites have drifted away to the next event, to
a more fashionable spot for September, or back to the daily work that
made these sunny weeks possible, we have stayed on. At this once
proud Belle Époque villa built on a rocky outcrop around the headland
from the bay of Cassis, we have found a short-term compromise. Mme.
Jozan has stopped asking whether we intend to stay a week longer in
her faded pension. The fact is, we are. No doubt she will tell us, in her
pragmatic way, when our presence is no longer acceptable.
We eat dinner at a café on the beach. How much longer it will be
open is anyone's guess. For the past few nights, we've been the only
We hardly speak as we drink some wine and pick at olives.
Dialogue is largely superfluous beyond courteous replies to the waiter.
Dom does try. "Did you walk today?"
"I always walk."
"Where did you go?"
"Up into the hills."
I walk in the mornings, though sometimes I don't return until
We go to bed early, and then on to places in our dreams: places that
are not as they really are. This morning, in the shallows of
semi-consciousness, I was in a domed greenhouse, a ghost of itself: glass
clouded with age; other panes shattered, glinting and ready to fall;
ironwork twisted and corrupt with rust. No such edifice exists at Les
Genévriers, but that was where I was.
In my dream, glass creaked audibly above my head as I stood
mending bent iron shelves, frustration mounting as I failed repeatedly
to straighten the corroded metal. Through broken glass, the
pleated hills were there, always in the background, just as in life.
By day, I try not to think of the house and the garden and the hillside
we have left behind, which ensures, of course, that my brain must
deal with the thoughts in underhanded ways. Trying is not necessarily
succeeding, either. Some days I can think of nothing else but what we
have lost. It might as well be in a different country, not a few hours'
drive to the north of where we are now.
Les Genévriers. The name of the property is misleading, for there is
only one low-spreading juniper, hardly noble enough to warrant such
recognition. There is probably a story behind that, too. There are so
many stories about the place.
Up in the village, a wooded ten-minute climb up the hill, the
inhabitants all have tales about Les Genévriers: in the post office, the bar,
the café, the community hall. The susurration in the trees on its land
was their childhood music, a magical rustling that seemed to cool the
hottest afternoon. The cellar had once been renowned for its vin de noix,
a sweet walnut liqueur. Then it was shut up for years, slumbering like
a fairy castle on the hillside, and prey to forbidden explorations while
legal arguments raged over ownership in a notaries' office in Avignon.
Local buyers shied away, while foreign bidders came, saw, and went.
It is more than a house; it is a three-story farmhouse with a small
attached barn in an enclosed courtyard, a line of workers' cottages, a
small stone guesthouse standing alone across the path, and various
small outbuildings: it is officially designated as un hameau, a hamlet.
"It has a very special atmosphere," the agent said that morning in
May when we saw it for the first time.
Rosemary hedges were pin-bright with pungent flowers. Beyond,
a promenade of cypresses, prelude to a field of lavender. And, rising
at the end of every view, the dominant theme: the creased blue hills of
the Grand Luberon.
"There are springs on the land."
That made sense. Three great plane trees grew close to the gate
of the main house, testament to unseen water; they would not have
grown so tall, so strong, without it.
Dom caught my hand.
We were both imagining the same scenes, in which our dream life
together would evolve on the gravel paths leading under shady oak,
pine, and fig trees, between topiary and low stone walls marking the
shady spots with views down the wide valley, or up to the hilltop
village crowned with its medieval castle. Tables and chairs where we
would read or sip a cold drink, or offer each other fragments of our
former lives while sinking into a state of complete contentment.
"What do you think?" asked the agent.
Dom eyed me complicitly.
"I'm not sure," he lied.
Excerpted from The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson Copyright © 2011 by Deborah Lawrenson. Excerpted by permission of Harper. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Meet the Author
Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is married with a daughter and lives in Kent, England. She and her family spend as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, France, the setting for her novel The Lantern and inspiration for The Sea Garden.
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this book was a page turner from beginning to end. It kept you guessing upto the last page. It was a mix of a ghost story, love story, and mystery all in one.
If you are going to read this book, I would suggest that either you read Rebecca or watch the movie or do both before you read The Lantern. AT first I had a hard time reading the book because of the back and forth between the main character and the "ghost". But once I got into it, I enjoyed the book. Definitely read Rebecca. The movie is a wonderful classic.
I read along for quite some time before I knew how I felt about The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson. Normally I will only read so far before I decide whether or not I can finish it and give it a positive review and recommendation, but The Lantern had me confused. I was either holding a piece of literary work of genius, or a book that was not worth finishing. After getting the characters straight in my mind with all of the jumping back and forth, without any indication of what place in time I was reading about, things started to improve and I I found myself fully immersed into a fascinating novel of drama, mystery suspense and romance. Deborah Lawrenson writes in a classic style with vivid mastery. Although there were times that I could have done with less description, the writing was still beautiful and the plot was mesmerizing. I found The Lantern to be unique in the way that there is an air of mystery and suspense that surrounds the story, yet Lawrenson has written her book from the perspective of two characters (one past and one present) and their relationship with the people who surround them. I recommend this novel to readers who typically enjoy classical literature, both male and female, and to book discussion groups. There is a lot to talk about in this novel. Anything from literary work to relationship dynamics.
This story was beautifully written about a part of France that I wish I had spent more time visiting. The couple that buys a very historical property in Provence learns through the history of the home how to let go of a bit of their personal history and secrets. It was hard for me to get started with the book, its format confused me a bit at first, but once I got the hang of the narrators changing, it was easier to follow and you get two stories in one book which is always nice. There was a certain creepiness factor, the objects that kept showing up, and reports of people that simply disappeared added some extra intrigue even though you understand where it is coming from early on. I thought the author did a great job of having the two women lead somewhat parallel lives, it brought an extra element to their stories, and it made me appreciate the difference in the times the women each lived through. Reviewed by Gabi for Book Sake.
This is an okay read - not great - I was drawn to it because of the review that said it was reminiscent of REBECCA - not even close.
I was ready for a spooky book or thriller and this was neither! Very predictable
I loved this book. The descriptive passages were stunning and added greatly to the ambience of the story, the time and the place. The plot was complex and suspenseful. All the characters were interesting. It's important to remember that most characters can only be seen from the viewpoint of the two narrators at each point in the story. Some have complained that Dom was not fully fleshed out, but that was the point. Eve was struggling to know who he was and he was struggling to hide who he was. This added to the suspense.
Did not enjoy going back and forth between chapters.
I really enjoyed The Lantern. It was a combination of a mystery, drama and love story. The premise of the story revolves around a family that inhabited a cottage and surrounding acreage years ago. One of the daughters is stricken with blindness in her early youth and actually grows up to be an admired and successful perfume maker. She uses her sister and other friends to help describe colors to her. A favorite quote in the story was: "I finally went blind when I was thirteen years old and it was the loss of my sight that took me to places I might never have seen." Because people were forever describing the lavender fields or the color of blue to her, the book and the author's writing style began to take on a very poetic feel for me. It was like an artist painting a picture and the descriptions were like looking at a blank canvas and watching a scenic view slowly appear. Another favorite quote is: "Some scents sparkle and then quickly disappear. Some scents release a rush of half-forgotten memories. And then there are the scents that seem to express truths about people and places that you have never forgotten -- the scents that make time stand still." They say that when a person loses one sense, that another of their senses will magnify itself. The blind sister's sense of smell was so keen and she so aptly could mingle various scents to create a particular atmosphere of feelings. It brought back memories to me of how the smell of yeast draws me back to the days of my grandmother baking rolls; how the smell of an iris takes me back 50 years to the days of a grandmother's iris bed that spanned an acre. I love how the smell of cinnamon reminds me of my mother baking pies and the smell of sawdust takes me back to days spent with my father in his workshop. I guess when we lose a loved one, we keep them with us in the scents that hold memories. Don't get me wrong - this book is NOT a melancholy, "good old days" story. It is ripe with mystery, murder and questions but somewhere in the midst of the story it spoke to me and, at least for now - if you can pardon the pun, has awakened a desire to stop and smell the roses.
Fabulous book! I liked the way the author weaved in the stories of the current owners and previous family of the house. A mystery novel, with a few mysteries within it. A hint of "Rebecca", but with current day feel.
Rich, descriptive writing, suspense and mystery work together to create an enjoyable read.
Didn't really grab me or come to life, but not bad
The Lantern tells the story of two women, Eve and Benedicte who are connected by their home, Les GenEvriers. Eve's story is in the present and Benedicte's story takes place in the past during the productive glory days of Les GenEvriers. Eve meets and is swept off her feet by the secretive Dom who she begins to distrust when he refuses to answer questions about his ex-wife, Rachel. Benedicte's story is a little less straight forward as an old mystery is slowly unraveled. This story is beautifully written and I found myself continuously impressed by Ms. Lawrenson's descriptions. She creates a story that introduces relationships that are complex and introduces situations where all is not what it seems. Though I could recognize Ms. Lawrenson's talents, I really didn't enjoy the actual story. The pace was entirely too slow for my tastes. There were two big mystery's. One mystery surrounds Benedicte's story and the other Eve's. The reader did not become aware of the Benedicte's "mystery" until the book was almost over and then it was pretty easy to guess the answer. I know that I should have really wanted to know the answer to Eve's "mystery" but I lost interest half-way through the book. The build-up of the tension and suspense was just too slow. Unfortunately, if I didn't have a personal rule requiring me to finish every book that I start, I wouldn't have finished this one. Even with my rule, I almost gave up. Readers who like well-written stories with vivid descriptions and deep meanings really might enjoy this. However, if you require a plot that moves steadily, this one might not be for you.