I leaned over the terrace wall. Vines scratched my bare legs as I pushed myself as far out as I dared. The light was there alright; it was quite a way down the path. I squinted, trying to make it out. Was it moving? Could it be Dom hiding a flashlight? Then I started to tremble.
It was moving closer. It seemed to be–it was–the glow of a lantern. The same pattern, the same yellow dance of a guttering flame inside the metalwork frame as it moved up the path. Who was holding it? I blinked, wondering if this could be some kind of a dream.
I couldn’t make out anything else, but the lamp was still there. I watched it until the light vanished, just as before. Now I was spooked. (p. 184-5)
Such an atmospheric novel, reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in many ways, but unique enough to stand on its own. Like Rebecca, there is a mysteriously missing wife named Rachel. Like Maxim, there is a tormented husband named Dom. And there is the ‘new wife’ trying to make sense of it all.
While Manderley lay in England, Les Genévriers (the home of Dom and Eve) lies in France. Its story of past inhabitants is interwoven with those of the present, and over them all float the fragrances of lavender and heliotrope, as well as an intermittent vision of the lantern. This beacon was once a symbol of love, then a symbol of loss; how interesting that it should reappear to Eve as if the small figure of a woman, who once held it, continues to use it to light her path.
The novel is filled with imagery and scent. One of my favorite passages is about the perfume that Marthe Lincel, the blind daughter who lived in Les Genévriers decades ago, created.
Lavande de Nuit starts as a winter-white scent, and turns into summer on the skin. The first burst of powdery sweet heliotrope and white iris develops a sharper note of wild cherry, drying down to a milky almond base with a signature flourish of the unexpected, in this case, a bracing dash of hawthorn. After a few hours of warmth, it pulsates with wild herbs and lavender in sunlight. A faint mist of caramelized hazelnut and vanilla emerges, and finally, a deep, smoky lavender. It is one of those scents that seem alive on the skin, subtly incubating, insinuating its personality, and leaving an enchanting trail. (p. 365-7)
For a person who is as passionate about perfume as I am, this is exquisite imagery. And for the rest of you, who love mystery and ambiance, stories of romance and murder, you will find much to leave an eerie mark within the pages of The Lantern.
Find other reviews of Deborah Lawrenson‘s book here:
Tuesday, August 9th: A Soul Unsung
Wednesday, August 10th: Wordsmithonia
Thursday, August 11th: nomadreader
Friday, August 12th: Life In Review
Tuesday, August 16th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, August 17th: Books Like Breathing
Thursday, August 18th: The Road to Here
Friday, August 19th: The Lost Entwife
Monday, August 22th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, August 24th: Rundpinne
Thursday, August 25th: Bookstack
Friday, August 26th: Café of Dreams
Monday, August 29th: Raging Bibliomania
Tuesday, August 30th: Colloquium
Wednesday, August 31st: JenandthePen
Thursday, September 1st: Book-a-rama
Tuesday, September 6th: Book Dilettante
Thursday, September 8th: Book Hooked Blog