Book Review: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

Title: The Lantern
Author: Deborah Lawrenson
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Gothic fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Harper
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher for a tour with TLC Book Tours
First line: Some scents sparkle and then quickly disappear, like the effervescence of citrus zest or a bright note of mint.

Eve and Dom have a whirlwind romance, a love that quickly intensifies, leading them to purchase Les Genevriers, an old farmhouse in the lavender fields of Provence. As their first summer together fades, Eve begins to realize how very little she knows about Dom, and how his secretive nature inhibits her from asking questions. As her doubts about Dom and his past grow, so does her feeling that they might not be alone on the old farm. Her investigation into Dom’s past intersects with the history of Les Genevriers and the tragedy-plagued family that had once lived there.

Deborah Lawrenson has written a book that is virtually drenched in atmosphere, appealing to all the senses. Her writing is so lyrically descriptive, so vivid, that I almost expected scents to rise into the air as I turned the pages. Lavender, walnut liqueur, honey, vanilla, thyme. While the descriptions invoke all five senses, one of the characters is a blind perfumier, and because she experienced life through her nose, the reader does, too. Whenever I closed the book, I felt like I was leaving a different world, a world more infused with sensation than the real world I live in.

The romance between Dom and Eve is a tricky one. It’s easy to see that Eve is completely knocked off her feet by him, and yet her decision to run away to France with him and isolate herself from friends and family seemed a bit naive. One of the reasons historical gothic novels work so well is that, in the past, women had much less power or ability to make their own decisions. They are stuck in the haunted castle/house with the possibly-wicked man because they are either married to him or work for him and have no other choice. Lawrenson tries to evoke the same sense of entrapment by putting Eve and Dom in a remote farmhouse without internet or phone, but it didn’t quite work. Today, a woman can simply walk away from a bad marriage or abusive relationship, and so there were times when I thought, “He’s creepy! Why doesn’t she just leave?!?!”

That is a small quibble, though, in a book that is gorgeously written with a very intriguing mystery and tons of creepy atmosphere. The characters and setting definitely outweigh any drawbacks. I enjoyed the dual storylines and the history of the house – and the ending was unexpected and yet satisfying. This is a must-read for any of you who are lovers of gothic fiction.

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20 Responses to Book Review: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

  1. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks
    says:

    Loved the vivid descriptions and imagery in this one. I do agree that it was sort of odd that she chose to isolate herself so much and was so enthralled by Dom that she couldn’t seem to “undo” that decision.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – I really am looking forward to reading more of her books, simply because of how beautifully she writes!

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    I’m not sure I’ve read gothic, but boy, does that sound good!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – Have you ever read Daphne duMaurier’s Rebecca? If you want to try gothic, that’s a perfect place to start!

  3. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads
    says:

    I read this as part of a readalong last year, and I think that having to stop each week and think about it impacted on my enjoyment of it a bit. If I had of just read through I wouldn’t have noticed as many of the things that didn’t quite work for me. It was still a good read, just not a great read.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Marg – I read it through pretty quickly, so even though I occasionally thought, “Why is she still there?!” I was right on to the next thing. 🙂

  4. You got my attention with “beautifully written” “intriguing” and “creepy atmosphere” – sounds like my kind of book! I’ve been hearing great review on this one for months. I definitely need to move it up on my TBR list!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  5. Pingback: Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern, on tour March 2012 | TLC Book Tours

  6. Samantha says:

    I liked this one when I read it but I didn’t love it. I need to write my thoughts down on it sometime soon or I’m going to forget. I didn’t quite buy Dom and Eve’s relationship either but I did love the atmosphere of the story. Nice review!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Samantha – This one was definitely dripping with atmosphere!

  7. Janel says:

    I agree that Dom & Eve’s relationship was a stretch to believe and I definitely felt that Eve should left him and not stayed. I agree this book was full of wonderful descriptions, but I had a hard time with the shifting narrator at first. Nice review!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Janel – yes, the shifting narrator took me a bit to get used to, too.

  8. Pingback: The Sunday Salon – March 4, 2012 (the “February reading wrap-up” and “Reading Challenges and TBR Double Dare update” edition) | BOOKS AND MOVIES

  9. Pingback: “The Lantern” by Deborah Lawrenson | Melody & Words

  10. Kathleen says:

    I’ve heard this one compared to Rebecca by DuMaurier so I’ve had it on my list and on my shelf to read. Your review is encouraging me to read it sooner, rather than later.

  11. Jill says:

    I did wonder why she just didn’t go and why she felt so guilty about looking things up about his past, but the no internet no phone thing did manage to make it seem more like they were cut off. I always enjoy our beach vacations when we leave the computer at home and just relax, but we always have out cell phone just in case we need to be reached or reach someone.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Jill – I’m so addicted to my laptop, I’m not sure I could go without it for more than a few days! LOL

  12. Pingback: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson – Book Review | Linus's Blanket