As often happens in this wonderful world of blogging, I stumbled upon Deborah Lawrenson’s blog many months ago and fell in love immediately, captivated by the lush descriptions of her Provencal farmhouse and the inviting photographs of the French countryside. So entranced was I by her writing and imagery, I didn’t realize for a while that her blog was a preview of the novel she was writing. I soon placed The Lantern high on my TBR list, and was ecstatic when TLC tours offered me the opportunity to read it.
Normally I might not choose a novel in this romantic-Gothic-supsense genre. But The Lantern appealed to me on other levels – the setting, a dilapidated and ghostly hamlet in the French countryside; the protagonist, a young woman known for her bookishness and reticence; and the writing, which, if Lawrenson’s blog was any indication, would be lush and evocative. I wasn’t disappointed on any of these counts, and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself caught up completely in the story as well.
“Meeting Dom was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me,” says our heroine, Eve, who is irrevocably drawn to this somewhat mysterious older man and is soon caught up in a “classic whirlwind romance.” Soon she has “thrown her lot in with his,” and they are off to France where they immediately fall under the spell of Les Genevriers, a charming, if dilapidated property hidden away amongst the lavender fields in Provence. The couple moves in during the flush of first love and warm summer days, but as the weather begins to turn chill, so does their love and their surroundings, as both Dom and Les Genevriers begins to reveal their darker secrets. Many of those secrets involve the former owners of the house, a troubled family whose presence has never been completely eradicated, even though every member has long since died. But Dom has secrets of his own, and a sense of foreboding begins to trouble Eve as she realizes that Dom is hiding something and that her home harbors the ghostly presence of unsettled souls. Undaunted, she is determined to uncover the hidden past and put all the ghosts to rest once and for all.
Reading The Lantern was a bit like stepping into a warm pool of water that starts out calm and quiet and just a little sleepy, but soon sucks you in with a surprising undertow and finally whirls you in a vortex of questions and emotions. When at last you come up for air, you find yourself basking in the placid sunlight of a summer day, wondering if it was all just a dream.
Deborah Lawrenson grew up in Kuwait, China, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Singapore. She studied English at Cambridge University and has worked as a journalist for various publications in England, including the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, andWoman’s Journal magazine. She lives in Kent, England, and she and her family spend as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, France, the setting for The Lantern.
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