Wednesday, March 21, 2012

TLC BOOK TOUR and REVIEW: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

from Goodreads

When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom, their whirlwind relationship leads them to purchase Les Genevriers, an abandoned house in a rural hamlet in the south of France. As the beautiful Provence summer turns to autumn, Eve finds it impossible to ignore the mysteries that haunt both her lover and the run-down old house, in particular the mysterious disappearance of his beautiful first wife, Rachel. Whilst Eve tries to untangle the secrets surrounding Rachel's last recorded days, Les Genevriers itself seems to come alive. As strange events begin to occur with frightening regularity, Eve's voice becomes intertwined with that of Benedicte Lincel, a girl who lived in the house decades before. As the tangled skeins of the house's history begin to unravel, the tension grows between Dom and Eve. In a page-turning race, Eve must fight to discover the fates of both Benedicte and Rachel, before Les Genevriers' dark history has a chance to repeat itself.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Harpercollins (first published August 9th 2011)
ISBN 0062192973 (ISBN13: 9780062192974)

About the Author
from the inside book flap

 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, and Woman'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.

Check out the author's website
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My Thoughts
Some scents sparkle and then quickly disappear, like the effervescence of citrus zest or a bright note of mint. Some are strange siren songs of rarer origin that call from violets hidden in woodland, or irises after spring rain. Some scents release a rush of half-forgotten memories. And then there are the scents that seem to express truths about people and places that you have never forgotten: the scents that make time stand still.

Most of the story takes place in Provence, France.

I love that this picture shows fields of lavender and sunflowers next to one another, which is mentioned in the book.
Eve is swept off of her feet by the older Dom, and before she knows it she is following him to Les Genevriers, an old abandoned house in a small hamlet in the south of France. At first all is wonderful as they fix up the home, but soon the ghosts from the past creep in to come between them.

For the majority of the book I found Eve to be a pretty likable character, but I was frustrated by her refrain from confronting Dom in their troubled times. However I think this is mostly attributable to her youth, as she is much younger than Dom. I've been in a relationship with a much older man and know how you can fall into the natural "father/daughter" dynamic in such a relationship, giving up much of your own power.
In the book, Eve has to deal with Dom distancing himself from her emotionally, and she feels alone and suspicious as she tries to understand what is going on with him, and what has happened in his past with his first wife. The more withdrawn he becomes, the more suspicious she becomes of his past. She begins to wonder who he really is, and what he may or may not be capable of doing.

Sabine (a former friend of the first wife) wound up becoming a bit of an annoyance. I began to doubt her sincerity and felt she was being manipulative. I didn't really know whose side she was on, but I guess that is all part of the great mystery surrounding this storyline.

Throughout this book, one word kept going through my mind: lush. Humid, dank, and dense through much of it, but lush throughout!

The setting is very important to the storyline. This story is all about ghosts and the past, and you really need the antiquity of the buildings and landscape, and the old local legends and myths to create this haunting atmosphere.

The atmosphere really ties into the story. I believe that the environment should be warm and arid, taking place in France, which I don’t believe is known for high humidity. And yet the feeling that I kept getting throughout this story was “lush” and humid, dripping and cloying. It was really a contrast to the true atmosphere of the setting. It set the relationship between Dom and Eve. When things were going well between them, the air would be light, warm, the plant life in bloom. Then the sky would get overcast, the plants dormant, rains falling. When the weather would turn and everything would be gray and miserable, the mood would likewise change between Dom and Eve.

This is a story for the senses. It's the movement of shadow, the twist in the light, the way the breeze feels as it hits your skin. There's an oppressiveness in the air that bears down on you. But more than anything it is the sense of smell that drives the story. Vanilla, lavender, citrus and almond-- the sense of smell is important to this storyline, which hosts scenes from the youth of a blind woman who became a perfume-maker, and you are drawn in to how it was to be her and living through your sense of smell.

I enjoyed this story. I felt that the "main" characters of Dom and Eve lacked some development and were actually secondary to the ghosts of Benedicte, Marthe, Pierre and the rest. It was the ghostly glimpses into the past that kept me intrigued. I loved how expressive the author could be, and her writing could really pull me in...

From the first touch of his lips on mine, the warmth and softness of him. I was changed. For the first time in my life, I loved the darkness. I embraced the black, as we kissed, and I lost myself in the smell and the taste and the feel of him. (p. 247)
Inside, the house was dark and silent and cool. As we passed through each room, we threw open the shutters to the light and felt the stones breathe and familiar shafts of brightness sweep the floors and walls. Pockets of scent stirred the senses: here, old soot and cloves combined in imitation of church incense; there, lavender and citrus. (p. 357)
The cover is beautiful! The copy I received was the paperback of a stone cottage nestled up against the far end of a dense lavender field. The lushly beautiful purple lavender contrasting with the deep blue sky. The cottage peeking out from behind a wall of deeply green shrubbery. I love the cover!
Likewise I loved the structure of this book. Each chapter chopped up into small sections, and for someone like me with such difficulty focusing, this is perfect! Just one small section a couple of pages long that I need to read before hitting a stopping point. The font was well-sized and well-spaced, making it very easy to read.

My final word: Part love story, part ghost story, part mystery and suspense, this is a leisurely jaunt through the past. Some have expressed annoyance at how similar Lawrenson's writing is to that of Daphne du Maurier. Since I haven't yet read any of du Maurier's work, I can't really speak to that, and did not have any similar annoyances. I found Lawrenson's writing beautifully descriptive without being overly done, and it really drew me in to the sights, smells and sensations of the surrounding enviroment. The book left me a little melancholy, but all-in-all hopeful for the future of the characters, and I was left wanting to read more from author Deborah Lawrenson. I see her book The Art of Falling is in my future!

My Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I received a finished copy for review as part of a book tour through TLC Book Tours.

Thursday, March 1st: Books and Movies
Wednesday, March 7th: Knitting and Sundries
Monday, March 12th: Stiletto Storytime
Tuesday, March 13th: Picky Girl
Thursday, March 15th: Kahakai Kitchen
Friday, March 16th: Take Me Away
Wednesday, March 21st: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, March 28th: The House of the Seven Tails
Friday, March 30th: Books, Books Everywhere!


Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I haven't read du Maurier yet either, but she's on my TBR list. I think I'd really enjoy this book based on your description of it.

Thanks for being on the tour.

trish said...

I like your phrase "ghostly glimpses into the past."

I've heard multiple people mention how lush the setting is. Obviously the author has a real talent!