This is the first week of Carl’s R.I.P. VI group read of Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern. This week’s questions have been sent by Carl. Here is the link to his post. We have been reading part one and two of the book. It’s safe to read the answers below as they do not contain spoilers. It’s too early in the book. But some of the answers can give you a good impression of whether you want to read the book or not.
The blurb calls The Lantern a novel in the vein of Rebecca. Eve, a young woman, falls in love with a complete stranger. When he asks her to come and live with her in an old beautiful house in the South of France, she abandons her life in London and follows him. The house and its surroundings are enchanting and so seems their life at first. But when Eve begins to ask questions about Dom’s first wife and discovers strange things in the old house, it all starts to change.
1. This may seem like an obvious opening question, but what do you think of The Lantern thus far?
I am in two minds about it. There are passages that I like for their detailed descriptions and others that I do not like for the exact same reason. Sometimes water is just water. But in The Lantern you will always find a fancy description. Blue-green icy sea water. They do not eat fruit, they eat mulberries and figs and cantaloupes and probably they will taste spicy, caramel-sweet and refreshingly juicy. There is no noun that isn’t accompanied by an adjective. I find this tiring at times. I feel as if I had entered a stuffy old boudoir with too much furniture and knickknacks in it. But then again, at other times, she captures the scents, the aromas, the colors, the light and the flora of the South of France so well, that I enjoy it.
The story is interesting so far and I’m curious to find out what is going to happen next but I’m not overly keen on the characters.
2. The book appears to be following the experiences of two different women, alternating back and forth between their stories. Are you more fond of our main protagonist’s story or of Benedicte’s or are you enjoying them both equally?
They are both interesting and I want to find out, why the book skips back and forth. One moment we are in the past with Bénédicte, then we are back with Eve. Bénédicte is the more interesting of the two because she is more mysterious. I also think that the parts that are dedicated to her are less fraught with details.
3. The Lantern is a book filled with descriptions of scents. How are you liking (or disliking) that aspect of the book? How do you feel about the lavish description of scents? How are the short chapters working for you?
I like the short chapters. I also enjoy the descriptions of scent but all in all, as I said in my first answer, I think it is overdone. There is too much of it. It has an appeal but at the same time it’s overpowering. The strength of the novel is at the same time its weakness.
4. How would you describe the atmosphere of Parts 1 and 2 of The Lantern?
Part 1 seemed almost playful, a few hints that things may not be as they seem, but there is a lot of hope, a joyous atmosphere. In part 2 there are more and more strange things going on, there are omens and signs and much more chapters focus on the past.
5. Has anything surprised you to this point? Anything stand out?
I’m surprised by the descriptions, how appealing and artificial they are at the same time. I’m also surprised that the story goes back and forth in time and changes between the point of view of the two women.
6. What are your feelings about Dom in these first two sections of the story?
I simply cannot stand the guy and have no clue why any woman would follow someone who makes a secret out of his past. I wouldn’t trust him at all.
Bonus question: Did anyone else hear “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” ringing in their ears through the first sections of the book
I read that it had a lot in common with Rebecca. Maybe the storyline is similar but the writing is so completely different that I didn’t really think of du Maurier’s book.