Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Gem of a Book - The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

If anyone tells you that author blogs don't work, just say phooey. If I hadn't read Deborah Lawrenson's blog I doubt I'd have heard about her novel "The Lantern". I'm bombarded with lists of Best Books 2011 (three of which I've read but won't bother with the rest) and can't understand why this little gem isn't up there among the best.

As I started reading "The Lantern" it was as if I was meeting an old friend after a long absence, or sunning myself on a mellow summer's day, or getting into my own bed after a vacation, or sitting in front of a log-fire on a cold evening. This is going to be a "feel-good" read, I thought. Little did I know.

The book is steeped in atmosphere. If you want a taster, check out Ms Lawrenson's blog but the book itself rises to higher levels and evokes the scents and flavours of past and present Provence. I was constantly amazed at the author's skill in creating deceptively easy but hauntingly beautiful prose.

The main characters initially slip into an enviable way of life. They meet, fall in love and move to a crumbling but beautiful old farmhouse. That's the moment for the shift in the feel-good factor, it's the moment "The Lantern" morphs into a tale of gripping suspense and intrigue. The author proficiently weaves a parallel story of past inhabitants of the house into the main plot leaving the reader constantly wondering: who is the evil and hopelessly cruel brother Pierre? Is he a ghost and what part does he play in today's events? Why does husband Dom become so reticent? Has he committed some kind of crime?

The main story is set in present times and it's narrator, Eve, is reminiscent of the narrator in Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca". The sub-plot, however, is firmly fixed in the early to middle twentieth century and is populated by strong, fully rounded characters. The reader experiences their despairs and hopes and how they deal with blindness and insanity. The history of how lavender was - and is, I presume - used in perfume-making is fascinating.

If you want to be transported to the lavender fields of Provence, splash on Lavande de Nuit scent, or wander the cobbled streets of Cassis, while immersing yourself in a compelling tale of betrayal and intrigue then "The Lantern" is a book for you. It's certainly one I will keep and dip into again and again.

  **** Deborah has kindly agreed to give us some insights into "The Lantern" - I'll post them tomorrow. Her article is a fascinating read. 

In April, her publisher is going to publish a deluxe version. Take a look at the beautiful cover:

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow Deborah on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Deborah-Lawrenson/211837778847973 

See you tomorrow!


  1. I say phooey - they do work!

  2. Hi Sue, I've visited Deborah's blog before - absolutely stunning photographs! I'll be reading her book soon, too :-)

  3. Absolutely Alex - you should know. You'll enjoy the book Julia, promise.

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