Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern – Group Read Week II (Parts 3 and 4)

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson ebook

This is the second week of Carl’s R.I.P. VI group read of Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern. This week’s questions have been sent by Kailana. Here is the link to the other posts.

This week we read part 3 and 4 of the book. I’m still in two minds about the novel as a whole. There are passages I like and others I don’t but overall I enjoyed parts 3 and 4 much more than parts 1 and 2. They were more mysterious and creepier and I really wanted to know how the book ends that’s why I already finished it but I will not spoil it for those who haven’t read part 5 yet.

Those who have not read the book at all, shouldn’t read the answers. It wasn’t possible to avoid spoilers.

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?

For me the lantern is one of the most creepy elements, together with the slender figure Eve sees several times at a distance but who disapears every time she gets closer. The discovery of the bones in the pool was quite creepy as well. At one point I thought it might be Dom who was carrying the lantern and trying to confuse and scare Eve.

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?

Scents are powerful triggers for memory. A scent can open up a door to a long forgotten past. That seems to be the function of the scents in the novel. For Bénédicte the scents and especially the perfume Lavande de Nuit are tied to Marthe, for Eve, I think, they will forever be her link to the first summer with Dom. And, finally, they capture the essence of the South of France, this very essence that Marthe tried to recreate with her perfume.

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?

Marthe’s story is the one that fascinates me the most. The other characters in the story seem to feel the same. They are all equally fascinated by her. Her disappearance echoes Rachel’s story.

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?

Of course I totally dislike Pierre. Dom is still without any interest to me. Eve is not very fascinating either but I’m interested in Bénédicte, Marthe and, more surprisingly in Rachel. I also start to feel pity for Rachel. I wonder if Dom ever really understood her. It seems she had issues but usually this type of issues does have an origin. Nobody becomes this obnoxious and dishonest without a reason.

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 was pretty sure they had been killed by Pierre but I didn’t see a connection with Rachel.

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’d rather not answer this as I already finished the book.

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?

It’s different from what I expected. I thought I would like the story Eve – Dom – Rachel best but now I realize I’m far more interested in the triangle Marthe – Bénédicte – Pierre. During parts 3 and 4 it met my expectations. I didn’t mind the descriptions anymore and, as I said before, I really wanted to find out the ending and rushed right through the final pages.

30 thoughts on “Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern – Group Read Week II (Parts 3 and 4)

  1. I also don’t see a connection between Rachel and the disappearance of Marthe/Annette, although I’ve got a lingering suspicion that Pierre might be the serial killer, largely because it seems like the kind of thing he’d enjoy doing.

    I’m very curious as to how this is all going to end. I haven’t finished the book yet, as I’m trying not to read too far ahead this time, but I’m sure I’ll finish it soon!

  2. Pingback: The Lantern (group read, week 2) | Susan Hated Literature

  3. Interesting that you feel for Rachel, I think that judging only by Dom’s memories of course, that she had serious issues and would have needed professional help to ever be a real part of a relationship.

    Of course there is still the possibility that Dom’s memories aren’t true I suppose.

    I have to say I like Eve, not a huge amount, but I do like her. I’m more interested in Benedicte’s story at this point though. I really feel sorry for her, all alone in that house, betrayed by her lover, and tortured by her past. But is there more to come… I think I’ll have to finish this tomorrow and find out 🙂

    • I always thought he wasn’t telling the whole story. The way we see him and how he is with Eve doesn’t exactly speak in his favor.
      I could never really warm to Eve and she seems pale compared to the other women with the exception of Sabine who is an odd one. Nosy as well, I thought. Bénédicte is the most tragic figure but Marthe was the most fascinating.

  4. I was thinking the same thing about Pierre, Grace. Kept thinking in this third and fourth part that he would show up not just in Benedicte’s recollections or as a child ghost but as a real life presence in the lives of Eve and Dom.

    As the whole story of Marthe’s blindness and her career as a perfume creator unrolled in this section of the book I enjoyed the scent descriptions even more than in the first part of the story. As I mentioned in discussing the first section, in relation to wines in particular, I am fascinated by the combinations of things that create flavor and indeed feel that same way about scent. And as scent is one of those things I find most difficult to describe, I enjoyed being educated by Lawrenson’s ability to make scent come alive for me.

    I grew more annoyed by Dom during parts 3 and 4 of the book. I think looking back I’m a little more understanding of Eve, although still a bit exasperated, but Dom’s insistence on being secretive is really hard to take.

    But like I said in my own response to this week’s questions, there wouldn’t be much of a story without these aspects, as this is part of what the story is all about. 🙂

    • Describing scents and, in the case of wine, aroma, is extremly difficult and it is always amazing how they are normaly described as a combination of other scents and aromas.
      For me Dom is not only annyoing but boring as well.
      I agree with you last sentence but…. For me this is the same type of premise you see at work in romnace novels and that is the reason why I do not like romance in general. Not because I don’t like mushy or emotions etc but because the conflict, the obstacle at the core of the story is a pure device and often based on one person withholding information from another one. This is not realistic to me.

  5. I wound up enjoying Benedicte’s story more than Eve’s, too. The triangle was much more interesting and I found I cared more about how things played out. I was curious about the other triangle, too, but not that much…

  6. It’s been so interesting to read everyone’s comments. I read The Lantern back in summer and it’s faded a bit from my memory now. But Marthe’s story stayed with me, and of course the dastardly Pierre. I remember there was a moment when all the plotlines collided, over the bones in the swimming pool, I think, and that was very satisfying after the sense of meandering plot that dominated before. I liked the way the storyline of Rebecca was rewritten by the ending, and appreciated it more in the abstract than in the reading of it!

    • There are quite a lot of storylines that cross each other and seem indeed to come together when the bones are discovered.
      I’m curious to see what the others think about the end.

  7. Glad to know that the book improved in parts 3 and 4 and you really liked it! Your comment – “Scents are powerful triggers for memory. A scent can open up a door to a long forgotten past” – made me think. It is really a profound observation.

  8. I’ve only fifty pages left but can’t seem to find a nice chunk of time to just sit and read! I am ready to find out what the connection between the characters are now. I much prefer Benedicte’s story to Eve’s and I suspect Eve and Dom will end up together which I sort of think is disappointing–but how else can it end? Some characters are really interesting and others feel very flat. I don’t have a very good sense of what Rachel was like, but I guess since she is gone and I only hear about her via other people’s memories it’s hard to envision her as flesh and blood. This has been a pretty good but sort of uneven read.

    • I couldn’t agree more with you on all of your points! I agree on Bénédicte’s story being the most interesting. Having Dom and Eve end up together seems inevitable but far from logic. “Uneven” is a perfect way to put it. I’m curious to see what you will make of the end.

  9. You have finished it…how was it? I am beginning to have small interest on it…so I don’t want to read the last questions of this readalong…it might give major spoilers….but I want to know what you think overall. Was it good, great or okay?

    • Spoiler ALERT!!!!! This is an answer to Novia’s question and will give away a lot.
      Ok here goes. I wasn’t too keen on parts 1 and 2 but parts 3 and 4 were very suspenseful and then part 5…. A major HUGE disappointment. The solutions to all those stories were so not realistic. One was good, very good, Bénédicte’s story but the one between Rachel-Eve and Dom was sooo wrong and boring.

      • Ah…bad ending huh!! 😦
        I guess I’ll pass then. I don’t know if you notice how I love great ending so much, a plain story could be good if it is closed unexpectedly.

        Thank you Caroline for sharing that despite the fact it’s a major spoiler. I appreciate it a lot.
        Just a suggestion, when giving spoiler, you can change the color of your comment to similar with the background. It will make those who don’t want to be spoilt have hard time reading it.

  10. Thanks for your answers to the questions, and sorry for my delay in commenting! I had to more or less drop out of the interwebs this last week due to real life!

    Someone made a really interesting observation about Sabine further up in the comments – just that she was a bit of an odd duck – and that really made me think about her ties in the novel. I was trying to imagine her as a bit of a Mrs Danvers, enticing “Eve” to learn more about Rachel, but never particularly got a good read on her or her motivations. She may have been the most mysterious character for me because of that.

    • No worries, Kate.
      That’s true, about Sabine, with hindsight and after finishing th novel, I would say she was the one I got the least and who was hiding quite a lot.

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