17 October 2011

The Lantern Group Read, Catching Up

I'm quite behind on The Lantern Group Read for the RIP Challenge, but in my zeal to catch up, I thought I'd post my answers to the questions that Carl, Heather, and Kailana have coordinated. My fellow blog readers know that I've had a teensy bit of work that has gotten in the way of reading these past two weeks, so apologies all around and please beware: Should you continue reading this post and you've not yet read The Lantern, you may be dangerously walking through *spoiler* minefields...otherwise, enjoy!

The Lantern is a gloriously descriptive book that has been compared to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (and it even mentions the esteemed writer) set in the lush Provence landscape. Although it is firmly planted in contemporary times through the eyes of Eve as she settles into a beautiful home in the lavender fields of France with a mysterious man named Dom, the story alternates with Bénédicte, a woman who grew up in the very same farmhouse.

Week 1 & 2 Questions

Week 1:
Question: This may seem like an obvious question, but what do you think of The Lantern thus far?
Answer: I absolutely love it. The haunting storyline, the subtle secrets, the sometimes abrupt chapter and section endings that act as just the right cliffhanger to get me to the next section...I am enjoying the ride of this book so far and at the risk of getting ahead of myself, I'm fairly certain I will be a bit sad when the story concludes

Question: The book appears to be following the experiences of two different women, alternating back and forth between their stories. Are you more fond of our main protagonist's story or of Bénédicte's, or are you enjoying them both equally?
Answer: Frankly, I'm enjoying them both. While a little jarring when I realized that it alternated between the two characters (the chapters do not denote who is speaking), I found that both offered a mystery and intrigue that kept me moving quickly from page to page. I'm horrified by some of the events that Bénédicte has to deal with when it comes to her brother Pierre, and then am caught up in Eve's lack of initial curiosity into Dom's secrets. I was initially annoyed with Eve to move in so quickly with a man she barely knows so far away from all that she is familiar with, but that was it. Just a trite annoyance with her before finding that she really was quite an interesting individual who was more caught up in the heady romance of it all.

Question: The Lantern is a book filled with descriptions of scents. How are you liking (or disliking) that aspect of the book? How do you feel about the lavish description of scents? How are the short chapters working for you?
Answer: At the risk of also getting caught up in it all, I am drawn to the description of scents and their lingering effects on the characters. While there are many, it's written beautifully so that you're taken by it all and not overwhelmed by it. I'm someone who can get easily overwhelmed in a flower shop by all of the scents fighting for dominance, and oftentimes I have to leave after a few minutes, but the book doesn't remind me of those moments. Instead, it makes me think of exactly what is being described: Dreamy landscapes of demure aromas.

The short chapters are fantastic. I don't know about anyone else but this makes it so much easier for me to move quickly through the story.

Question: How would you describe the atmosphere of Parts 1 & 2 of The Lantern?
Answer: Gothic, quiet and haunting. There is a melancholic undertone, but a creepy thriller is moving unobtrusively in the middle of it all. I'm confident that it's going to be quite a shock (fingers crossed).

Question: Has anything surprised you to this point? Anything stand out?
Answer: I mentioned this above, but what Pierre does to Benedicte is horrifying. I hated every moment of it and I have no idea what's going to happen next with him and her.

Question: What are your feelings about Dom in these first two sections of the story?
Answer: I'm a little annoyed but intrigued with his character. I'm not sure how bad he truly is, but I'm disappointed that we aren't quite getting a sense of how charming he truly is, that could take this quiet woman and magically sweep her off her feet and take her to a small farmhouse in the middle of France. I'm only told that Eve's madly in love with him, but I don't quite feel how she could be.

Bonus Question: Did anyone else hear "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again" ringing in their ears through the first sections of the book?
Answer: Since I just concluded reading Rebecca a few weeks ago for the RIP Challenge, the sounds of Rebecca were still resonating with me. While at first I enjoyed it, now I'm not sure how I feel about when Rebecca is actually mentioned in the storyline and that a chapter also starts out with an actual title of a Du Maurier short story when Dom tells Eve, "Don't look now."

Week 2:
Question: The title of this book is The Lantern, and a lantern makes an appearance in both of the stories. In Bénédicte's past, it had a meaning, but what do you think the lantern signifies in her future and in Eve's story?
Answer: I'm not sure just yet. I'm thinking that perhaps it might be something as obvious as that it draws one out of darkness into the light of understanding, but that is only a hasty guess. Another part of me wonders how it might relate to Marthe's blindness and if it's those gifted with sight who need to see something visually in order to follow it and find the truth, whereas it seems Marthe might already know all of the answers.

Question: Carl mentioned scents in last week's questions, but they have been addressed even more in these sections. What significance do you think scents have in this story overall?
Answer: Bénédicte mentioned that when one of the senses is lost, the others are heightened. It seems that this is what continues to keep Marthe grounded, keeping her present and ever connected to the land around the farmhouse. I'm enjoying the descriptions considerably.

Question: What do you think of the combining storyline of Marthe. She connects Bénédicte, Eve, and Rachel. What do you think will be revealed about this connection in the next sections?
Answer: I confess. Don't laugh, however...I have a really odd thought that there is a serious scientific or medical connection between Rachel and Eve and I don't want to reveal too much now because part of me think it is silly, but part of me doesn't want to give anything away to the group read participants if I'm right. But I think it is so odd that both Rachel and Eve have the same interest in writing about Marthe's life. I'm trying to be practical about it all, when it very well is not grounded in anything rational or medical, but these multiple coincidences layered within it all are making me wander down the path of one particular conclusion...

Question: Now that things are moving along, what do you think of the characters? Are any standing out for you? Do you particularly like any? Dislike any?
Answer: I dislike Pierre, and Sabine is starting to make me mad. Spit it out! What do you want to share with Eve that you are holding back on? You're being tough enough to take her to places one on one, why not spill whatever it is you are so dying to ask or share?

Question: Lastly, what do you think of this book overall? Other than for the read-along, why are you reading it? Is it meeting your expectations?
Answer: Other than my red-faced pseudo-confession above on what I think might be the ultimate case with this story, I'm enjoying this Gothic and haunting tale and am eagerly awaiting what each chapter reveals. I'm reading this because I've heard so many wonderful things about it, but because it's also the type of story I like to read. Recently, I made a decision that I would change the type of books I'm reading to be exactly the type of categories that I like instead of just reading anything, and I've been enjoying my reading much more now. This is reminiscent of Rebecca and The Thirteenth Tale, and while there are no vampires, I do think it has the same haunting feel that made me love The Historian so much. After this, I might dive into some Wilkie Collins just to keep the Gothic ride going.

I'm participating in the Peril of the Group Read for the RIP Challenge. Click here to see other thoughts for the book.


  1. I'm scrolling down to say I have not read this yet and I'm so excited to do so!!

  2. I thought this was such an outstanding book, and the sections that developed the mystery of Dom and Pierre really made me get tense with anticipation while I was reading. I also loved both of the storylines, and felt that they were both really well done. I think you will be surprised by how everything works out in the end. Great thoughts today, Natalie!

  3. This read along is making me so jealous that I don't have a copy of this book. A work trip is coming up; maybe purchasing this one before that.

  4. I was annoyed by Dom a lot too. Why couldn't he just come out and tell Eve about his past! I guess that would have led to a much shorter book though ;)

    Perfect RIP read.

  5. I didn't like parts I and II that much. They felt like a stuffy boudoir. I was overwhelmed by the man descriptions. In part 3 and 4 I like them much better and I alos like the story as a whole a lot. It is supenseful.
    Your idea about Eve and Rachel being linked in a "medical" way isn't a bad one but I didn't think of this.
    Like Fence I'm annoyed by Dom but, yes, the story would be shorter if he spoke.
    I'm not saying more as I was too hooked to finish after part 4 and dashed to end.

  6. Sabine did act pretty suspiciously the entire time... she's quite the nosy neighbor.

  7. I'm intrigued by your medical idea! If you have a minute or two sometime, do go on!