Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern – Group Read Week III (Part 5)

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson ebook

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

Looking back on the novel, I would say this was a very mixed bag for me. I was really curious to read the end for many reasons. I wanted to know how it all tied up and I also thought that I could only say whether I really liked the book once I finished it.

Those who have not read the book at all, shouldn’t read the answers. They contain spoilers.

1. Now that it’s all said and done; what did you think of the book? Did you see the ending coming?

It was a mixed bag. I liked some parts a lot but after having finished I must say, I didn’t like the end at all. The story of the bones was too predictable, the missing girls a bit of a plump red herring and Rachel’s end was far from realistic.

2. What do you think of the characters? Lawrenson took us on a twisty little ride there, I had trouble deciding who was good and who wasn’t for a while there! What do you think of Dom? Of Sabine? Rachel?

I still think Dom was an insufferable character and what he says about Rachel’s death doesn’t even have to be true. Rachel was a troubled mind but we never really know why she became the way she is.

3. Pierre was such a conflicted character. In the end, do you think he killed Marthe and Annette, or did the fall to their deaths because of their blindness?

I’m pretty sure, he killed them. It goes well will all the other cruelties he committed.

4. The book is being compared to Rebecca and Daphne du Maurier’s writing. Do you think the book lives up to that description?

I didn’t see Rebecca in it at all. It’s decidedly not in the same league.

5. Did you have any problems with the book? Narration? Plot? The back and forth between two different characters and times?

I had a huge problem with the police procedurals and the cancer story. They just didn’t sound realistic. This book overflows with descriptions and details but all we get is the word “cancer”. That’s too easy. To feel at least a little bit realistic, we should have heard what type of cancer. Colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, leukemia, glioblastoma… What did she have? I think you get the drift. If you can’t call a tree a tree but tell your readers it’s a fig, it’s a pine, it’s a …. then you should be a bit more explicit than that when it comes to an illness like cancer, especially when the person dies of it. This was not believable for me and spoilt the ending of the book.

6. Do you think Lawrenson tied both stories together well in the end? Is there anything she could/should have done differently?

The best part is Bénédicte’s story. I like that ending very well but, as said before the solution to the “serial killer” and Rachel’s end felt wrong, like a cheap trick.

7. One problem I had with the novel is the reliability of the narrators. Do you think any of them were telling the truth? Which ones?

I think Bénédicte and Eve are probably the only truthful ones. Dom’s story could be true or not.

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.

Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern – Group Read Week I (Parts 1 and 2)

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson ebook

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.