Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for The Lantern
Eve and Dom fell in love and into a relationship practically instantaneously. He was handsome, older, and charmingly mysterious. Dom was a composer who had already made his fortune and now had the luxury of devoting his time to his musical pursuits. Eve was a translator, shy and “bookish,” when she quickly give up her career to move in with Dom, leaving her plenty of time to read when not spending time with him. When they purchase an old estate in need of renovation at Les Genevriers in Provence, life in the midst of France’s lush lavender fields becomes idyllic.
When they met, Dom told Eve that he had been previously married, but he refuses to discuss his former wife, Rachel, or their marriage. Whenever Eve mentions Rachel and asks any questions about her or their relationship, Dom grows sullen and angry. Living like two hermits, without internet access, cell phone coverage, or even television — virtually cut off from contact with everyone else — Dom begins to withdraw from Eve, his mood growing darker as autumn sets in and the days become shorter.
Eve becomes curious about the former residents of Les Genevriers, as well as Dom’s past. She grows increasingly suspicious in response to brief remarks and inquiries made by a local realtor who was acquainted with Rachel and wonders about her whereabouts. Eve sets out not only to learn the truth about Dom’s marriage and how it ended, but also the history of Les Genevriers and its form inhabitants. But Eve’s discoveries are increasingly disturbing and frightening, and she wonders if she made a mistake when she quickly plunged into a relationship with a man she barely knew and agreed to live with him in such a beautiful, but mysterious setting.
Fans of gothic romances such as Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca will love The Lantern, a richly engrossing mystery that will keep readers guessing right up to the very end. In fact, in an homage to Rebecca, author Deborah Lawrenson’s protagonist, Eve, reads that beloved mystery. Much of The Lantern’s strength lies in Lawrenson’s lush imagery which becomes a critical supporting character in the piece. Her descriptions of the sights, sounds, and, most importantly, scents of Les Genevriers transport readers to the French countryside.
In alternating chapters, Eve’s experiences are juxtaposed against another voice. Soon it becomes clear that Benedicte, who grew up at Les Genevriers, along with her sister, Marthe, and brother, Pierre, is telling her story. Marthe lost her sight while still a young girl and eventually became a wealthy and successful perfumier. Benedicte describes her ill-fated only romance, the devastating estrangement between her and Marthe from which she never recovered, and Pierre’s unbelievable capacity for cruelty. Of the three, it was Benedicte who remained at Les Genevriers her entire life. Is her ghost still residing there? And might her presence explain some of the strange events that Eve has witnessed?
In The Lantern, there is a clear line that stretches back through Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece Jane Eyre, the classic English gothic novel of the house, the man and the first wife . . . ~ Author Deborah Lawrenson
Eve is naive and trusting, and having never before enjoyed a successful relationship, anxious to give herself over to the charming security that a life with Dom offers her. Still, she is believable because of her intelligence and impeccable instinct. Fittingly enough, Eve meets Dom in the Labyrinth of the Five Senses, a maze in the garden of a chateau at Yvoire on the shore of Lake Geneva. Dom tells her he is lost, the two begin chatting, and end up spending all of their time together. “Deciding so quickly to throw my lot in with him was the most daring, rash, life-enhancing choice I had ever made,” Eve says. “My friends and family wondered if I had lost my head, and of course I had. Head, heart, mind and body.” Eve not only fails to perform a background check on her new lover, but allows him to evade her inquiries about his apparently failed marriage and resolution to never marry again. Undeterred, she completely abandons the life she had been living in England up to that point in favor of taking up residence with him in France. When her wonderful new romance appears to be unraveling and Eve questions her own judgment, she retreats to the books she loves so well as Dom holes up in his music studio, each in their own isolation chamber. But Eve’s literary choices, including Rebecca bring her few answers and little comfort. As Lawrenson notes, they “exacerbate her dread, until she is not sure whether she is imagining the worst because she is influenced by the stories she is reading, or whether she is more accepting than she should be because she is seeing real life through the gauze of literature.”
Dom is clearly tormented, but the reason for his discontent remains a secret. Does he had a guilty conscience? And if so, why? What terrible act did he commit? On the very first page of the book, Eve notes: “Until it happens to you, you don’t know how it will feel to stay with a man who has done a terrible thing. Not to know whether the worst has happened or is yet to come; wanting so badly to trust him now.” Lawrenson provides enough clues along the way to have readers postulating theories about his life with Rachel and her fate as Eve reveals her own musings. Expertly-timed tidbits of information keep readers pressing forward to unravel the mystery. Benedicte’s narration of the events that unfolded so many years earlier and Eve’s growing fear and anxiety, along with a few shocking plot developments, fuel the escalating tension.
Lawrenson deftly marries the past to the present when she ties up each loose end, providing a sweetly satisfying conclusion to her mesmerizing tale, even incorporating a plot twist involving a highly controversial, contemporary issue. The Lantern is a remarkably well-conceived and exquisitely written tale.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of The Lantern free of charge from the author in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Enter to Win a Copy of The Lantern
One lucky reader, selected at random, will receive a copy of The Lantern, generously provided by the author.
To enter, simply post a comment! Be sure to include your email address (for notification and delivery purposes). The book can only be shipped to a United States or Canadian address (no P.O. box).
Entries will be accepted through Sunday, September 25, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific time)!