Where do you start when trying to review such a book as The Lantern. Well at the beginning but actually with this book the beginning is the end to which we need to keep on reading to get to where we join the book and in particular join one of the major female characters – Eve.
Eve is swept off her feet by a very charming older man Dom, he has his past as she does and secrets but all that matters to them both is the here and now, and that here and now is swept up with them being together and finding themselves buying a run down house in the South of France at the height of summer.
The house has its history and that is weaved throughout the book as alternating chapters (in the main) and take us to Benedicte who has her own story to tell in the same house that Eve has chosen to live in.
The plot hints at whether, their lives will intertwine and while Benedicte keeps seeing people appear in front of her who she is unsure of, Eve keeps smelling the perfumes which she cannot recognise but why? And does the house hold the key to unravelling both Eve and Benedicte’s story. Only by reading on will you find out.
As gradually Eve and Dom settle to restoring this run down house, their future together looks like it is crumbling instead and when those early heady days of a relationship seem to be over, Eve starts to look more closely at Dom and his past, what exactly is he hiding and more importantly why? Then a local woman mentions something which turns Eve into detective and this tests her faith and trust in everything.
Benedicte is along and isolated in the same house as Eve but many years previous. Her past seems to be reappearing and she cannot see why. Is it a form of punishment for a decision she once made or for all the decisions she should have made? As she looks back and sees what may have happened under tragic circumstance do her own decisions hold the key to the future happiness of Eve and Dom? Will Benedicte then become more at ease for the rest of her days?
Lawrenson takes you to a place where you can fill the sun on your back, the mist as thick as fog, the perfume of the lavender it all comes off the page and with such beautiful prose, the book I felt enveloped me in a place where so little appeared to be going on, but so much had and was to come. I was hooked and after a wobbly start I had to keep turning the page, some things surprised me some things didn’t.
I acknowledge the striking similarities of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier which many reviews have picked up on and which the author herself reflects on as she has based this novel on several events in her own life,; buying a house in Provence which need work doing on it. It is the suggestion of the unknown and the not known that Lawrenson handles so eloquently can we really know someone, can we really see something, can we smell something or is it all in the imagination and our mind is playing tricks on us? This book suggestions all these questions but not all the answers.
Deborah Lawrenson is a new author to me and if this is the standard of her writing then I am off to find more books by her. I admit to have a bit of a wobbly start and did think what is going on these opening pages make no sense. I felt I had come into the story after everyone else. How glad I am I persevered as I relished every page and the descriptions, the colours, the senses are captured so much
Blackberries crisped on dying brambles and fungus jutted like trays from the trunk of the big garden oak, hard to the touch and caked with ants…
The river, crashing white over mossy boulders, took on the opalescent green-blue of a mallard’s head in the stiller reaches.
These I just picked at randomly by reopening the book, the way to find out more is to go and read it!
If you have read any others by this author let me know where I should venture next.