The Heroine: Eve, a young translator who has become disenchanted with her career in England, secretly longing to write her own stories. On a business trip to Switzerland, Eve meets Dom, a charming and wealthy composer. Immediately swept off her feet, Eve and Dom embark on a whirlwind romance that leads them to Les Genevriers, an ancient and crumbling farm in the beautiful Provencal countryside in France. Although captivated by the beauty around her, Eve begins to learn that not is all what it seems: spirits seem to haunt the old house, Dom grows distant and cold and Eve becomes obsessed with the mysterious disappearance of Dom's ex-wife Rachel. Intertwined is the story of Benedicte, a young farm girll that lived at Les Genevriers with her family in the early twentieth century, Eve's story is a traditional Gothic tale spun on its axis to meet the modern era.
The Highs: The Lantern is full of romance, though not the type between a man and a woman. The prose is full of drawn-out descriptions of Provence and its hills, the flora and fauna of the region and beautiful imagery of the seasons, reflecting Eve's emotional life perfectly. Truly a Gothic tale, this book is perfect for anyone who longs for a little more beauty in their life, though The Lantern also does include some interesting plot points.
I really enjoyed the story of Benedicte Lincel and her family that was intertwined with Eve's tale. One of the last of the traditional farming families, the Lincel's struggled through cold winters, the burden of Benedicte's blind older sister, Marthe (destined to become a famous perfumer) and the insane cruelty of Pierre, Benedicte's brother. I really felt for Benedicte and developed a camaraderie with the sweet, simple farm girl whose life was plagued by trouble and disappointments.
The mystery of Rachel's disappearance and Dom's refusal to talk about it really caught my attention. I love plot twists, and though I felt The Lantern was a little lacking in suspense, I was intent on finding out what became of Rachel and I was satisfied by the ending.
The Lows: While The Lantern may be beautiful and sumptuous, I felt that the author really dragged out her descriptions so much and laid it on so thickly in each and every chapter that the actual plot moved along at a sluggishly slow pace. I got very impatient with the novel by the end of the book, wishing the author could just cut the crap (excuse my language) and get to the point already!
I was disappointed with the protagonist, Eve. Although I understand that the book is supposed to be written in a "hauntingly beautiful" way, it seemed like Eve was kept at a distance from the reader and, as a result, I never felt close to her or truly invested in her life.
Final Thoughts: The Lantern was enjoyable, but I doubt I would ever read it again.
Rating: The Lantern earns six parakeets out of ten.
Buy 'The Lantern' on the Book Depository here
Connect with author Deborah Lawrenson here
Photo from here