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The Lantern: A Novel Hardcover – August 9, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st Printing edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062049690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062049698
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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?

--Deborah Lawrenson


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


Review

The Lantern is a smart, gothic, bodice ripper that transcends the genre, thanks . . . to Lawrenson’s gift for bringing the senses to life.” (People (3 ½ stars))

“Deborah Lawrenson’s new novel, a modern Gothic tale set in the lavender-scented landscape of Provence, serves up an escapist mix of mystery, romance and murder.” (Wall Street Journal)

“I absolutely adored this beautifully written, modern Gothic novel, set in Provence, full of scents, colors and mystery. Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s classic, Rebecca, The Lantern will hook you in from the start and weave its dark, lush magic around you.” (Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept)

“Sensuous…. Lawrenson’s poetic prose vibrantly conjures up both the beauty of southern France and the ghosts, real or imagined, from different eras. B+” (Entertainment Weekly)

“With The Lantern, Deborah Lawrenson delivers a feast of sights, sounds and smells that grow and change and linger, like a wonderfully complex perfume. I was captivated by this marvelous, haunting book—at times vivid and lush, at times provocative and chilling.” (Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain)

“A seductive mixture of a Gothic ghost story and a modern romance. . . . If the story doesn’t keep you up all night reading, the sharp and beautiful descriptions of the South of France will. Deborah Lawrenson has written an alluring, dark novel that will haunt you and leave you wanting more.” (Danielle Trussoni, author of Angelology)

“A luscious mix of romance and gothic ghost story.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

“Deborah Lawrenson is a master of mood and shadow as she spins this absorbing tale of intense passion and growing dread. Her Provence is sumptuous and forbidding and utterly real. Prepare to be riveted.” (Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife)

Customer Reviews

I found that I would just be starting to get into a character and the chapter would end.
Tana
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.
NYLynnie
If I hadn't read Deborah Lawrenson's blog I doubt I'd have heard about her novel "The Lantern".
Sue Roebuck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Chris Finklein VINE VOICE on June 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
From the first words I was enchanted with wonderful descriptions along with moody creative suggestions but far too few light hints about the real story. Initially it was almost difficult to put the book down because the author does create gorgeous sequences the reader can almost touch or smell or feel but... too soon the intriguing moody references seemed to overtake the developing story. I found trying to make sense of the plot more and more foggy & tiresome. Once the story began to unfold the constant back & forth with various characters and time twists grew more and more confusing to keep straight.

I thoroughly enjoy a book that paints a picture and reveals the skeletons of its story with exquisite use of imagery, but when the reader's patience is tested repeatedly it reminds me of a special effects movie where the director gets wrapped into the computer generated side rather than the story itself.

The book cover jacket tried comparing this to "Rebecca," with a powerful and haunting story buired beneath the darkness and moodiness of the setting. That was my lure to want to read more. This author seemed in love with her ability to create intrigue in the French countryside but she lost sight of "hooking" the reader. As I lumbered to the conclusion it felt more like I'd endured rather than satisfied I finished it. What began as a disguised love story grew more and more predictable. In other words, I had the ending pretty much figured out with more than 100+ pages still to read.

This book didn't do it for me. I felt like I was plowing thru far too many mood sequences, bits & pieces of contributions to the end result which was disappointing and less than satisfying.

I applaud the author's wonderful use of a wanton vocabulary of description; still, it was as though I had to plod through 75% of adjectives and quirky time changes to get to the remaining 25% of plot. Ugh!
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Love VINE VOICE on July 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was enchanted with this novel when I got the advance readers copy. It came wrapped in a neat envelope to match the cover, had a card I could conveniently use as a bookmark. Of course, it also gave me doubts about the story I'd find between those covers.

The packaging mirrors what I came to love about this book. The descriptions are very visceral. Beautifully vivid. I can see Les Genevriers, smell its lush gardens...the writing captivates and puts you there. Lawrenson captured its spirit wonderfully.

The story itself is nothing original. Girl meets boy, they move into a French chateau, and surprise -- it's haunted! It's not a spoiler if it's on the back cover copy. This book is advertised as a "Gothic ghost story," and while that's what it tries to be, it loses its way amongst the sights and smells of Provence.

The tale is often bland. It's mostly about the characters traveling or contemplating the house, or cooking/walking - taking in the scenery along the way. There's a whole lot of filler. The relationship drama, which is a major thread in the book, got tiresome past Part One. We get it, Dom has *secrets* but the pace of it is too slow.

Dom didn't seem very realistic, a feeling I didn't get from the other characters aside from some questionable judgment calls (but ones that felt true to the characters). Probably because he suffers big time from female-author-writing-male-character syndrome. After the initial crush wore off, I never got the sense that Eve and Dom loved each other. Too much time was spent describing the scenery and not enough on actual character development. Or plot for that matter.

It bothered me that the big ~mystery~ of the novel is told to the reader, not shown.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By OLT TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is touted as being in the tradition of Daphne DuMaurier's REBECCA. And it is, in the same way that Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart wrote many gothic romantic suspense novels perhaps in imitation of REBECCA, which was published a few years before their first gothics came out. And all of these, DuMaurier included, owe a lot to JANE EYRE or WUTHERING HEIGHTS, I would suppose.

I doubt that THE LANTERN will ever become a classic like REBECCA or JANE EYRE, but I enjoyed it for what it is, a very well written gothic romance/suspense novel, better than anything by Holt or Stewart in many ways but not as good in others. The writing here is excellent, descriptive passages wonderfully evocative of the sights, smells and even sounds of Provence in France. There are two stories in alternating chapters of the book, one about modern-day Eve and her lover Dominic, who have bought a rundown but charming farmhouse Les Genevriers, and the other about Benedicte Lincel and her family, the house's former owners perhaps a half century or more before.

Benedicte's story was stronger, more compelling and more interesting than Eve's and perhaps Provence itself, for me, was the most interesting 'character' in the book, rather than either of the two main female protagonists. The beautiful descriptive passages and writing make this book superior to a Victoria Holt or a Mary Stewart gothic, but where these latter gothics are superior to THE LANTERN is in the mystery and story itself, especially the weaker story of modern-day Eve.

Eve has the 'de rigueur' mysterious, brooding lover of a gothic Holt romance, whom we never really get to know well and has little character development.
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