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The French Book Review: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

Provence Lavender

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson is a love story set in France – romantic, mysterious and full of rich, luscious and lavish descriptions of Provence in the south of France where the tale of two lovers unfolds.

We meet Eve and Dom at the very start of their relationship; he is wealthy and charming and she, far younger but in some ways wise beyond her years, finds in him her soul mate. They quickly fall head over heels in love and set up home together in a house called Les Genévriers in a remote village in the Luberon, in Provence.

Their whirlwind romance is set against a background of music, books and sensuous scents from the lavender fields in full, vibrant summer bloom. There are other scents too, which seem to emanate from nowhere, sights that disturb and mysteries that cannot be explained for the house too has a story to tell.

Eve and Dom spend a blissful summer together, discovering each other’s likes and dislikes, their personalities complimenting each other, their love growing ever stronger. Any worries are pushed to one side and Eve knows that she has found the man with whom she wishes to spend the rest of her life. Her only slight concern is Dom’s unwillingness to share any details about his first marriage and wife but in the heady sunshine this seems a small blip on the idyllic landscape of their new life together.

However as the weather cools and the house with it, Dom’s reluctance to talk of his past, and the increasingly strange occurrences at Les Genévriers bring a different dimension to their relationship.

It is a complex story which spins a web for the reader with many threads. Throughout it all the reader is aware of the house which almost has a character of its own. Crumbling but glorious, full of mystery and history, its memories churned up by the arrival of the lovers, its secrets gradually revealed.

The descriptions are vivid and sumptuous, bringing to life the imagery of the gorgeous countryside, the scents and sights, the people and their tales. The story is gripping, tension builds with skilful narrative filled with absorbing Gothic overtones and leaving the reader with tantalising hints at what might have been and what might be.

Full of twists and turns The Lantern is a compelling read and I can honestly say I didn’t expect the ending and I’m not going to spoil it for you by telling you here!

I received my copy of The Lantern in the post and absolutely loved the cover with its soft cover and beautiful photo of a lavender field. Deborah Lawrenson, the author, had popped a book mark in sprayed with perfume and as the book came out of its package I caught a faint whiff of something I couldn’t quite make out. As I read the story, the soft cover and the scent of perfume enhanced my enjoyment. As the Lantern has a theme running through it about perfume I’d thoroughly recommend readers to spray a book mark with a favourite scent and use it whilst reading for a heightened experience…

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