Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

The Lantern
Author Deborah Lawrenson
Meeting Dom was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me. When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, their whirlwind relationship leads them to Les GenÉvriers, an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields of the South of France. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern. Deeply in love and surrounded by music, books, and the heady summer scents of the French countryside, Eve has never felt more alive.But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Though Eve knows he bears the emotional scars of a failed marriage—one he refuses to talk about—his silence arouses suspicion and uncertainty. The more reticent Dom is to explain, the more Eve becomes obsessed with finding answers—and with unraveling the mystery of his absent, beautiful ex-wife, Rachel.Like its owner, Les GenÉvriers is also changing. Bright, warm rooms have turned cold and uninviting; shadows now fall unexpectedly; and Eve senses a presence moving through the garden. Is it a ghost from the past or a manifestation of her current troubles with Dom? Can she trust Dom, or could her life be in danger? Eve does not know that Les GenÉvriers has been haunted before. Benedicte Lincel, the house’s former owner, thrived as a young girl within the rich elements of the landscape: the violets hidden in the woodland, the warm wind through the almond trees. She knew the bitter taste of heartbreak and tragedy—long-buried family secrets and evil deeds that, once unearthed, will hold shocking and unexpected consequences for Eve.
Review:  I have mixed feelings about this particular book.  It is well-written and researched, with defined characters and wonderful Hemingway-like setting descriptions. However, as you can see by the synopsis, much is already revealed on the back cover.  For me, as a reader, this can send a red flag.  Why is it necessary to preview with a string of questions and detail to this extend? Is it a way to point the reader in the correct direction or to premise the read with enough information to guide to a conclusion? After perusing, do you really need to read the entire book?  But wait, so many questions are posed and I don't have the answers...so, yes I will read the book!  I recommend setting aside a chuck of time if you're going to crack the spine on this one.  The story is told in shifts of the same setting. This occurs often, sometimes within a few pages.  If you have to pick up and put down the book you may lose track of who is speaking or what parallel and mind you're in.  I know I did.  Also, there are redundant perspectives of the same incident told or remembered so this won't help if you've lost where you are in the story.  Much backtracking and re-reading may be necessary to get oriented again.  I felt a little beaten over the head by the retelling of incidents. New clues were given, but not enough to warrant my re-reading of several scenes. I found this irritating and boring, but I kept on thinking some greater 'ah-ha' moment would come and I'd be rewarded for all my tenacity. Certain things are revealed but it's more of a 'ho-hum', than a ah-ha' moment.  All in all, it didn't move fast enough for my taste or deliver the shock promised.
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*ARC provided by Harper courtesy of Amazon Vine

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