The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
A modern gothic novel of love, secrets, and murder—set against the lush backdrop of ProvenceThis is the second week of the Read-a-Long of The Lantern as part of the R.I.P. Challenge. I came up with the questions this week, so you can read them and my answers to them below.
Meeting Dom was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me. When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, their whirlwind relationship leads them to Les GenÉvriers, an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields of the South of France. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern. Deeply in love and surrounded by music, books, and the heady summer scents of the French countryside, Eve has never felt more alive.
But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Though Eve knows he bears the emotional scars of a failed marriage—one he refuses to talk about—his silence arouses suspicion and uncertainty. The more reticent Dom is to explain, the more Eve becomes obsessed with finding answers—and with unraveling the mystery of his absent, beautiful ex-wife, Rachel.
Like its owner, Les GenÉvriers is also changing. Bright, warm rooms have turned cold and uninviting; shadows now fall unexpectedly; and Eve senses a presence moving through the garden. Is it a ghost from the past or a manifestation of her current troubles with Dom? Can she trust Dom, or could her life be in danger?
Eve does not know that Les GenÉvriers has been haunted before. BÉnÉdicte Lincel, the house’s former owner, thrived as a young girl within the rich elements of the landscape: the violets hidden in the woodland, the warm wind through the almond trees. She knew the bitter taste of heartbreak and tragedy—long-buried family secrets and evil deeds that, once unearthed, will hold shocking and unexpected consequences for Eve.
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?
I really like this question, but I am not sure if I can make an informed decision on what the lantern means. In the past it was a signal for Benedicte to go and meet with her fiance, so when she sees it in the future she assumes it is another ghost from her past. Eve is also seeing it, though, so it is interesting to consider what that means for her. There is also a strange woman that keeps appearing and then disappearing on their land, so it could possibly have something to do with that. It could also be Benedicte's past showing up in Eve's future. It could also mean that the past is haunting Eve, too, but not necessarily her past. There are several possible ideas and I hope we get some real answers.
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?
I find it intriguing that both Benedicte and Eve smell random scents that they cannot explain. Benedicte's sister, Marthe, was a famous perfume maker. This could easily be a haunting of Benedicte's past. For Eve, though, it is like the lantern. Is it Benedicte's past haunting the house still, a haunting from Eve's past, or is it something to do with the mysterious Rachel? I look forward to having it explained.
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 am actually very intrigued by Marthe. Is she a real person? I should look that up. I find it very interesting that she was blind, but managed to make such a success for herself. For the time she was living in, this was very impressive because of both her handicap and her sex. Benedicte is being haunted with the ghost of her sister, but we also see flashbacks to what Marthe was like when she was alive. Then, in the future, Rachel and Even were both researching the life of Marthe. It is interesting how this long-dead woman is connecting the woman of the novel.
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 am happy to see that Eve is getting a bit of gumption. She was just a bit too much of a pushover for a bit there. I still think she could stand to grow a bit more as a character, but it could be a lot worse. I still really like Benedicte. She had a hard life and I am intrigued by how her story is going to play out. I am also interested in the hauntings from her past because there are a few mysteries there that I wouldn't mind learning more about. Dom is just annoying. He is a bit too Mr. deWinter for me. I am curious what his connection will be with the death of Rachel. He claims in this section it was cancer, but then why all the mystery?
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 actually kinda was thinking the bones in the pool were Marthe and Annette. I honestly cannot see them being Rachel unless Dom is insanely stupid. Besides, the pool was being put in at the time of their hasty departure and it was a huge slab of concrete by the time Dom and Eve buy the place. That being said, I am curious about the connection to the missing girls. There are a lot of explanations for the bones in the pool because there are a lot of unanswered question.
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 have decided to try and not make predictions. I obviously have some ideas, as mentioned in the above questions, but I would like to try and just enjoy the book and not put too much pressure on it. If it goes in entirely a different direction I mind end up disappointed. I am mainly just hoping that the majority of the unanswered questions have a suitable answer.
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?
I think I am mainly reading this book because ever since I read The Thirteenth Tale, I have been looking for the next great new Gothic read. I think part of me was hoping this was it. The book is sufficiently Gothic, but I am not entirely sure if I am going to enjoy it quite as much as Setterfeld's book. I suppose I will have to see how the end goes. I am enjoying it, though, and it is suitably Gothic.