Posts Tagged With: provence

“The Lantern” Readalong, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of “The Lantern” readalong!  This week’s segments held many surprises!

This readalong is part of the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge (hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings).  Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts!

Questions for this week were written by Kailana.  The photograph to the left is by ladyofshalott, and I thought it suited the overall feel of the story rather well.

From this point on, there are likely to be spoilers from parts III & IV of the novel.  Next week’s questions will cover part V.  Enjoy!

1. The title of this book is The Lantern, and a lantern makes an appearance in both of the stories. In Benedicte’s past, it had a meaning, but what do you think the lantern signifies in her future and in Eve’s story?

To me, the appearance of the lantern ties together the two major storylines found in the novel.  For Benedicte, it meant the arrival of her former lover.  For Eve, it signified that all wasn’t as it seemed.  The lantern showed up around the same time as the bodies, so I’m thinking that it was a motif symbolizing the connection between the past and the present.  I’m curious as to whether Benedicte is still alive, and whether she will personally come into Eve’s life at some point in the next section.

2. Carl mentioned scents in last weeks questions, but they have been addressed even more in these sections. What significance do you think scents have in this story overall?

Seeing Marthe’s place in the story explored in greater depth gives an additional context to the descriptions of scents in the novel.  Because of her blindness, she is very perceptive in terms of scent, allowing her to become famous for her perfume formulas.  I think that Lawrenson’s use of scent as a part of her sensory descriptions adds a nice flavor to her descriptions of Provence, and lets us feel more of what Marthe does in addition to the other characters.

3. What do you think of the combining storyline of Marthe? She connects Benedicte, Eve, and Rachel. What do you think will be revealed about this connection in the next sections?

I’m betting that Pierre killed Marthe and Annette.  I see no other reason for their abrupt disappearance, and Rachel seemed to be close to discovering what happened to them.  I’m thinking there’s also a connection to the serial killer somewhere in there… could it be Pierre?  I could be completely off, but I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility.

4. Now that things are beginning to move along, what do you think of the characters? Are any standing out for you? Do you particularly like any? Dislike any?

I like Marthe’s character a lot.  Pierre… well, let’s just say that this segment cemented my animosity toward him.  Dom is becoming a bit more complex now that he’s admitted that Rachel’s dead.  I’m wondering if she really had cancer, and my suspicion is that he may have killed her in a euthanasia situation.  I’d be satisfied with that.  Again, I could be completely wrong…

5. What do you think really happened to Marthe and Annette? What do you think the significance of the bones in the pool are to the story? Especially now that it has been revealed that Rachel is also dead.

I’m pretty sure that Marthe and Annette are the bodies under the pool.  Pierre killed them while Benedicte left the farm.  It does make me wonder how he got the bones under there.  I’m hoping that Dom is telling the truth about Rachel, but I don’t think that either of the bodies belongs to her.

6. Do you have any other things you think are significant to talk about? Are there any other predictions to be made for the last two sections of the book?

I already predicted a few things for the rest of the book, with no guarantees as to their accuracy.  I really like the way that Lawrenson is able to connect the different storylines between past and present in order to tie her stories together.  I can’t wait to read the last section to see how everything comes together in the end.

7. Lastly, what do you think of this book overall? Other than for the read-along, why are you reading it? Is it meeting your expectations?

Overall, I’m loving it.   I’ve seen the title come up a lot recently, and was curious to see what it was about.  I’m glad that the focus is more gothic than romance, and that the novel is so complex while at the same time being filled with beautiful descriptions of Provence.  It’s far better than I expected.

Categories: Fiction, Horror/Gothic, Romance | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

“The Lantern” Readalong, Part 1

Happy Columbus Day! (Although it must be said that I think that Columbus was a horrible human being and should not be looked upon as a role model, based on his own writing about his conduct upon discovering the new world…)

As a part of the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge (hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings), I’m participating in a readalong of Deborah Lawrenson’s “The Lantern,” a gothic novel set in an old house in Provence.

The book is broken down into five sections.  This week’s discussion questions were written by Carl, and cover the first two sections of the novel.  Next week’s discussion will focus on sections three and four, and then the week after we’ll wrap up the readalong with section five.

From this point on, there may be spoilers from the first two sections of the book.  Be warned!

1.  This may seem like an obvious opening question, but what do you think of The Lantern thus far?

So far, I’m a fan.  I had no preconceived notions of the book, as I hadn’t heard of it before the groupread.  Lawrenson’s writing is beautiful, and she’s able to evoke an aura of suspense and mystery.  I find myself wanting to know more about each of the characters, and I’m extremely curious about Rachel.

2.  The book appears to be following the experiences of two different women, alternating back and forth between their stories.  Are you more fond of our main protagonist’s story or of Benedicte’s or are you enjoying them both equally?

At first, I enjoyed Eve’s story far more than Benedicte’s, but I think Benedicte’s story just had a slow start.  I’m rather curious as to what happened to Pierre.  Obviously he’s dead, and he was a little shit when he was alive, but why is he haunting Benedicte now?  What secrets are buried in the past?

3.  The Lantern is a book filled with descriptions of scents.  How are you liking (or disliking) that aspect of the book?  How do you feel about the lavish description of scents? How are the short chapters working for you?

Scents are rather integral to the story, and often hint at supernatural or ominous presences.  I think that they go far in helping to create the atmosphere of the story.  I like the short chapters; I do much of my reading while commuting or on lunch break, so I like having convenient stopping points throughout the story.  It’s better than having to stop mid-page.

4.  How would you describe the atmosphere of Parts 1 and 2 of The Lantern?

Hmm… quaint European storybook village meets “Under the Tuscan Sun,” except that it’s all haunted.  It’s creepier because everything is so pretty and full of light, but with such dark undertones.  Add to that an understood literary backdrop, and you have “The Lantern.”

5.  Has anything surprised you to this point?  Anything stand out?

I want to know more about Rachel, and why Dom freaks out every time her name is mentioned.  I suspect that he might have had something to do with her disappearance.  I also want to know what’s up with the swimming pool–it’s hinted that they find something underneath, but what?  I like the way that Lawrenson manages to tie together Eve and Benedicte’s lives through a book of stories.  It’s so poetic.

6.  What are your feelings about Dom in these first two sections of the story?

There’s a poem in Neil Gaiman’s “Fragile Things” called Instructions that seems to fit very well here.  I think that Eve needs to watch her step.  The handsome stranger with a mysterious past generally keeps his past hidden for a reason.  If he seems to good to be true, don’t trust him!

On one hand, I find myself liking Dom and thinking that he’d be nice to spend time with.  On the other hand, every time he starts acting like a creep when Rachel is mentioned, I start to wonder why Eve puts up with him.  The only reason I have to mistrust him aside from that is Eve’s revelation earlier in the book that Dom did something terrible.  I find myself hoping that it wasn’t murder.

Concluding Thoughts

Thus far, I’m loving the book.  I had to tear myself away from it to keep from reading ahead, because I need to know what happens next.  Lawrenson’s writing is beautiful, and I enjoy that she seems to be well-read.  I can’t wait to hear everyone else’s thoughts on the novel!

Categories: Fiction, Horror/Gothic, Romance | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

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