Over the past few weeks, I’ve been participating in a group read of Deborah Lawrenson’s “The Lantern.” Now that it’s ended, I’d just like to take a few moments to post a spoiler-free review of the novel, which has been compared by others to Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca.”
“The Lantern” is a gothic romance set in Provence. Eve thinks the world of her boyfriend Dom, but starts to question why he is so secretive about his past. When she asks him about his ex-wife Rachel, he becomes angry and refuses to speak of her. Meanwhile, Eve gradually becomes aware that the house they live in is haunted…
The perspective alternates between Eve’s story and that of Benedicte, the woman who formerly owned the house. Benedicte tells the story of her sister Marthe, a blind woman who became famous for creating perfumes reminiscent of the scents of the French countryside. Marthe mysteriously vanished when she was middle-aged.
The novel is filled with lavish descriptions of the scents of Provence. For some readers, this might seem a bit much, but one must bear in mind that the novel does include a character who is blind. As a whole, the novel has a relaxed pace but a suspenseful feel. Eve is a bit flighty, but I am willing to overlook that because she does show in the beginning that she loves literature. Overall, the novel is a pretty good read. It’s not going to become a classic of our era, but it’s relatively well-written and entertaining.