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Amazon Exclusive: A TALE OF PROVENCE: The story behind The Lantern
I’ve been having a love affair with Provence for more than 25 years. The light, the views, the colors, the heat—I find them all intoxicating. I went for the first time with the college boyfriend who would become my husband; his family had had a house in the Luberon for some twenty years. We finally bought our own property in France five years ago after my husband decided to give up banking and realize his long-held ambition to compose music.
“Les Genévriers” (not the property’s real name) is described in The Lantern more or less as we found it. Its setting is as accurate as I can make it without giving away its precise location. The Luberon area is one of the most sought-after locations in Provence, known for its hilltop villages, lavender, abundant fruit and clear bright light. It is the area Peter Mayle famously chronicled in A Year in Provence.
In addition to the abandoned farming hamlet, the story has its roots in the lavender fields and perfume industry in the region. There are small lavender fields and tiny family-run lavender distilleries all around where we live, but the main centers are to the north in Sault and, as described in the novel, to the east at Manosque and the Valensole plateau.
The idea of a blind perfumer came from the realization that there were strips of Braille on the packaging used by beauty product brand L’Occitane en Provence, based at Manosque. In 1997 the company created the foundation Provence dans tous les Sens (All the Senses of Provence) to introduce visually-impaired children to the world of perfume creation. In the novel, Marthe Lincel finds her true talent as a perfume “nose” after a visit to the Distillerie Musset from the school for the blind she attends in Manosque, although this episode takes place in the 1930s.
For most of the 20th century in this region, there was a gradual erosion of traditional farming as young people moved to the towns to seek work in the new industries and factories. The struggle was intense for those left behind on the hill farms in a region that was poor until the advent of mass tourism. In The Lantern, as Pierre--the only brother--takes off for better-paid work, and Marthe finds increasing success in Paris, this is the struggle faced by Bénédicte at “Les Genévriers”—and the past which gradually comes to disquiet Eve, the heroine of the contemporary narrative strand of the novel.
Like Eve, I am an avid reader and worryingly prone to over-imagination. While at the house our first summer, camping on stone floors, I re-read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and was as captivated by it as ever--but my thoughts wandered... what if I had come to this place knowing less about the area, or perhaps, less about the man I was with?
A Look Inside The Lantern
Click on the images below to open larger versions.
|Lavender field in sunlight||Garden door to the walnut wine cellar||View from Gordes to the Luberon ridge||A room with a view||Side door into the alleyway|
I found that I would just be starting to get into a character and the chapter would end.
I enjoyed the author's use of descriptive words that pushed past the boundaries of standard writing allowing you to feel as if you were in France and living the story.
The writing itself was flowing and descriptive, but I felt that it made the story drag through the novel.
Still trying to get through this book. Not holding my interest, and I pick it up, start to read, then put it down again. Will continue to try to read it... Read morePublished 25 days ago by Nori
Very beautifully written novel. The author has an incredibly evocative ability to bring to life the scenery, smells, sounds and lush beauty of the French countryside. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Angela@Florida
Didn't like this novel at all haven't finish reading yet hope to continue to read and get to the endPublished 2 months ago by DorisWhite-95
Too many similarities to Rebecca for my taste. Started really well then got bogged down in the same things over and over. S HuntPublished 2 months ago by Sonia J. Hunt
The story of the Lantern captures you from the start, the description of the area that the book was set made you believe that you had already been there and the characters became... Read morePublished 4 months ago by peeppeepthomas
This was a choice by our book club so I read it. I was interested as I saw the comparisons to Rebecca and I love that book. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Traveling grandma
I am only 1/3 of the way through. So I am interested in what is going to happen. Didn't realize it was a ghost story. Love to get the shivers.Published 12 months ago by Jo Lessner
Picked this book up while on vacation, was unable to stop reading it til I got to the end. This book takes you through all the emotions you have to feel. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jaybird