Tuesday, November 1, 2011

'The Lantern' by Deborah Lawrenson

Publisher: Orion Books

ISBN: 978-1-4091-3548-7

341 pages

What the 'Blurb' says:

'When Eve falls for the charming, secretive Dom, their whirlwind romance leads them to Les Genévriers, a run-down, yet beautiful house in the South of France. But as summer fades to autumn, Eve finds it impossible to ignore the mysteries the house seems to be hiding- not least the strange disappearance of Dom's beautiful first wife. And what is the connection to a young girl who lived in the house decades before?

As Les Genévriers' tangled history begins to unravel, and Dom grows increasingly distant, Eve must discover the secrets of the past- before history has a chance to repeat itself.'

Opening Line: 'The rocks glow red above the sea, embers of the day's heat below our balcony at the Hôtel Marie.'

What's good about this novel?

The writing in this novel is exquisite. 'The Book Club' reviewed this novel recently and one of the panelists said that this novel contained too much description. I disagree completely. I have never read a book which contained such unique descriptions that engulf the reader into the world being created, without distrupting the flow of the story. Also, I have a never read a book in which perfume and smells were so vivid. Lawrenson's use of language creates atmosphere and impact. So much so, that from reading page 1 of 'The Lantern', I was intrigued and wanted to read on.

Being a regular reader of Deborah's blog, I also enjoyed making the connection between subjects and places in which she has talked about in her blog and how they inspired 'The Lantern'. In some ways, this gives an almost autobiographical feel to the book.

The plot is quite complex, combining events taking place in the past, present and also a crime/mystery plot running throughout, but I didn't feel that this was too much in one novel.All of the elements within the novel related to each other and I felt that all of the plot lines were given equal attention.

One thing that I found particularly interesting is how the novel was not only a good read, but also made a social comment on how the past has an effect on the future. Not just on a personal level, but Lawrenson highlights how traditions and myths can shape people on a larger scale for example, the village in which the book takes place.

When reading most novels, as readers we focus on the words on the page and then when we are finished, pick up another book and focus on that. But what I found with 'The Lantern', was that I was thinking about the ideas Lawrenson presented in 'The Lantern' for a long time after reading the last page.

What's wrong with this novel?

If I had to be picky, I would say that the only thing I found difficult about this novel, was that sometimes at the start of chapters I wasn't sure whether the story was in the past or the present. Occasionally I had to re-read the first part of the chapter again to clarify this. However, I soon became used to the structure of the novel and it didn't really pose too many problems. It certainly did not inhibit my reading experience.

Is this worth a read?

In my opinion, yes. Its beautiful prose and intriguing plot would make 'The Lantern' a brilliant book for a holiday or for curling up with on a cold, winter evening.
It is also the kind of book in which you could find new elements within it, the more times you read it.


  1. I was thinking about reading this one. It sounds lovely!

  2. I think that 'The Lantern' is definitely worth buying. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I concur! Anyone who is thinking of reading this should do...I watched that episode of the TV Bookclub (which is I find so wooden anyway..) and I'm sure it was Rory McGrath who made that silly comment about the book being too descriptive. Miserable arse.

    I agree with you Spangle. Deborah's writing is so evocative and I do envy her that ability to completely transport you somewhere. Particularly the South of France, a part of the world which I adore...

  4. I have this on my shelf to read and have been putting it off, must get round to it now.