Book Review: The Lantern

The Lantern

Deborah Lawrenson


400 pages

So I said I was going to participate in Carl’s readalong for The Lantern.  I didn’t even want to read the book initially, but all the rave reviews made me curious and I thought joining in with that would be fun.  Then I started the book.  And I couldn’t stop, reading schedule be damned.

“Eve” is our nameless narrator.  She and Dom have started dating pretty recently and have moved into a home together in Provence, a French hamlet where the lush landscape hides many secrets.  Eve begins to realize though that she knows next to nothing about Dom.  He has a failed marriage under his belt that he refuses to talk about and Eve has the feeling that there is something about his ex Rachel that he is hiding.

Meanwhile, there is a dual narrative going on with an older woman named Benedicte who grew up on the property where Eve and Dom now live.  Benedicte had a troubling childhood.  Her brother Pierre was a satanist and masochist.  For those of you who have read The Lantern already, I will just mention that the scene with the kitten really troubled me.  Anyway, Benedicte’s parents ignore Pierre’s troubling behavior, and he gets worse and worse.  Their sister is blind and travels to Paris where she becomes a famous perfumer, which also plays into the novel as scents and the emotions they evoke play a large part in the novel.

If I could choose one word to describe The Lantern, it would be atmospheric.  I fell in love with the south of France and the crumbling mansion that Dom and Eve purchased.  The gothic tone was perfect and the mystery surrounding Dom, and later on the property, definitely had a creepy feel.

The only thing that bugged me about The Lantern was Eve.  She was so meek and such a pushover.  There was no reason for her not to know Dom’s past (except for the fact that it would have made the book less interesting!) and I just kept imagining myself in her position.  I would have demanded answers instead of letting Dom brush everything off.  The idea of living with someone when you know nothing about them is just something I don’t understand.

As for comparing The Lantern to Rebecca, that may be what had me so scared in the first place.  Rebecca is a masterpiece and probably the best gothic mystery I have ever read, so the comparison freaked me out because I figured there was no way The Lantern could hold a candle to it.  I am happy to say that while Rebecca was certainly an inspiration to this book, it is great in its own right.

I read this book for RIP and it was absolutely perfect for the challenge.

Other Reviews:

S Krishna’s Books

Devourer of Books

Leeswammes’ Blog


That’s What She Read

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble.

19 Responses

  1. So glad you enjoyed this one! I loved it — I thought it was a good homage to Rebecca without really trying to compete because nothing could be as good as Rebecca!

    I too was frustrated with Eve’s passivity, altho there’d be no story otherwise, and I chalked it up to her youth and, I suppose, the inertia that comes from not doing something for so long it becomes hard to change the pattern. Denial and all that.

    ‘Atmospheric’ is the perfect way to describe this novel!

  2. This book does sound pretty good! I can’t wait to read it myself.

  3. I think Eve was worried that Dom would run off rather than answer her questions so she didn’t want to force the issue. But yes, shouldn’t you know a bit more about someone before moving in with him?

  4. I wanted to participate in the readalong, but I’m still way back on the hold list at the library and doubt I will even get ahold of the book before October/RIP ends. Boo.

  5. I’m currently reading Rebecca, so I’m quite curious about comparisons between it and The Lantern. I’ve never heard of this book before, which means I really must read more books by authors who are still alive. LOL.

  6. This is a great review!! I wouldn’t have been interested in this either except for the rave reviews. I feel like your review talks more about Benedicte than some of the other reviews I’ve read so now I’m interested in her storyline too! I haven read Rebecca either (except for the very beginning once.) I plan on getting back to that as well so it’s good to know the books are different enough!

  7. Sounds like I really need to read Rebecca…

  8. This book sounds wonderful! I love Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and I think this book sounds a little bit like it which I think is awesome but it has enough differences that it holds up as its own story. I love the south of France setting and the crumbling mansion! I read about Eva’s passivity in other reviews and I’m curious about her and actually interested in reading Eva’s story.

    Thank you for a fantastic review that got me excited about this book. I especially love that you couldn’t stick to the reading group schedule but had to continue reading the book. That’s a great tribute to it!

  9. So glad to read this! I was worried about the Rebecca thing too, but now feel much more comfortable about it – hoping to get to it close to Halloween!

  10. I’m so glad you liked this book. I would have questioned Eve’s passivity too, had I not been completely swept away by the story and the atmosphere.

  11. this sounds like the perfect book to read for halloween. i haven’t read rebecca either so i might just add that one to my wishlist too.

  12. What a great sounding book for this fall season. I loved that you described it as atmospheric.

  13. I love books that you just get drawn into. This one sounds really good.

  14. I’ve been curious about this one as well. I’ll have to check it out. Glad to read that you enjoyed it. I might have a copy of this one, I’ll have to check.

  15. I really want to read this one – I must get my hands on a copy! And find time, of course…..

  16. I have a copy of this but I keep pushing it aside for other books. Your review has made me want to read it sooner rather than later though 🙂

  17. This sounds like another good gothic read for this month. I love that it was so good that you threw the reading schedule out the window. That speaks volumes! I will put this on my wish list!

  18. I loved Rebecca… looking forward to this one, too. Hope I can get to it this month!

  19. This is coming up in my TBR pile, but reading your remarks makes me want to jump ahead and start reading right away! I hadn’t thought of it in terms of the RIP challenge. Maybe I can squeeze it in this month!

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