Harper An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
If you loved Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca — and who doesn’t — you’re likely to love Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern. In fact, during the course of The Lantern, Lawrenson’s heroine acknowledges the “emotional pull and . . . truth” of du Maurier’s classic Gothic tale. While The Lantern doesn’t entirely pack the massive punch of its predecessor, it does stand on its own as a compelling and haunting story of misunderstandings, murders, and mysteries.
Eve is a shy, introverted translator who meets dashing, wealthy Dom while visiting a maze on the shores of Lake Geneva. Following the footsteps of Rebecca’s nameless narrator, Eve rushes headlong into an affair with Dom. Shutting out much of the world, the couple retreat to Les Genevriers in Provence to begin their life together.
Enchanted by their rundown farmhouse, captivated by the sights and scents of the lavender hills of Provence, madly in love, Eve “felt as if life — my real life, that was, the life I had always been hoping to have — had truly begun. I every way imaginable, I was happy, exhilarated even. And, at the core of it, I had found Dom, and he had found me. We were embarked on a new life together.”
Such exhilaration can’t last. Eve slowly begins to distrust — and even fear — Dom, who refuses to reveal anything to her about his ex-wife, Rachel. Encouraged by a neighbor who claims to have been close to Rachel, Eve determines to delve into what she sees as the secrets of Dom’s marriage.
Eve isn’t The Lantern’s only narrator. Her unfolding story is interwoven with memoir-like recollections of Benedicte Lincel, a previous owner of Les Genevriers. Even in the bright sunshine of Provence there are dark and ominous shadows. Benedicte’s brother Pierre was “a liability, a danger to himself.” And to others. Benedicte is puzzled and hurt by the loss of contact with her blind, yet successful, parfumier sister, Marthe.
Suspense builds as the two narratives race toward a satisfying conclusion where the past and the present collide and where the mysteries and secrets of the past are brought to light. Lushly atmospheric, The Lantern is a reminder, according to Eve, that:
First impressions are valid, no matter how vigorously we dismantle them as we come to know more. We all construct stories from visual clues, making snap judgments that draw on our own past experience. Sometimes we react against instinctive judgments, because we can’t rationalize them. But all the time we are picking pup thousands of cues, both rapid and subtle, and using them to form a fuller picture of a person or place.
Or as Benedicte would say, “Understanding is all.”
The Lantern is available at amazon.com and at your favorite New York bookstores.