Hello, all! It’s fall break here, so my today and tomorrow are deliciously clear, and so there is no better time to write my own contribution to Carl V.’s read-a-long of The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson! This is the second read-a-long I’m doing with Carl V. for the R.I.P. Challenge, and I’m super excited to have discussion questions to work from this time. The Fragile Things is far more open, and it’ll be fun to mix it up a little. So, without further ado, the questions!
1. This may seem like an obvious opening question, but what do you think of The Lantern thus far?
I’m loving it (gets McDonalds theme stuck in her head)! It’s been the perfect R.I.P. read and the whole things just smacks of gothic foreshadowing and dark twisty secrets! Lawrenson’s style is lush and is almost as beautiful as the Provence she writes. I’ve often fantasized about doing the ex-pat thing, finding and fixing up an old manor and spending my days reading and market shopping and wine drinking. Of course, this is total fantasy (versus Eve’s similar but more menacing reality) and it’s the discrepancy between my own dream and the way Lawrenson writes the story that has me so intrigued thus far. I also thinks it’s a fantastic show of writer-ship to be able to craft a story clearly lurking beneath the story being told — through everything from foreshadowing to interconnected details, and Lawrenson seems able to do this in spades.
2. 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 Benedicte’s or are you enjoying them both equally?
To be honest, a this point, I’m far more interested in our main narrators story than I am in Benedicte’s. Again, the appeal of a modern ‘turning over a new leaf’ tale is too much to overcome a story that’s more quasi- historical fiction than anything else. Of course, I absolutely loathe Pierre, so I will be intrigued to see how the relationship between he and Benedicte develops.
3. 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?
I’m loving the shorter chapters, actually. I feel like it really does help me feel like I’m just zipping along as the chapter numbers get higher and higher, and switching points of view in this manner keeps each chapter ending on a mini-cliff hanger and keeps me from getting overdrawn or tired of any one of the certain stories (I will say that sometimes I got a little worn down by the Eve/Dom relationship drama, which left me very tense and frustrated a certain times).
4. How would you describe the atmosphere of Parts 1 and 2 of The Lantern?
I love, probably more than anything else so far, the opening descriptions of summer at Les Genevriers, the dining on the deck, wine and candles and delicious summer scents and warm evenings. I think it’s this love Lawrenson created in me for the summer setting that caused such delicious growing tension as the seasons progressed in to fall. Which, you know, is pretty, but for me doesn’t pack the same punch as the summer setting. I also greatly admire the way that Lawrenson is able to use the shifting seasons to both create ans mirror the shifting tensions and dynamics between both Eve and Dom and Benedicte and the rest of her family unit. As a writer, I know that can be difficult to do well, and I think Lawrenson pulls it off beautifully!
5. Has anything surprised you to this point? Anything stand out?
Pierre and the kitten! That’s all I’m going to say in case I’m mistaken and this actually happens in part three. But if you know what I’m talking about, then yeah. It’s been a long time since a single action by a single character has literally filled me with so much anger and disgust that I was literally shaking.
6. What are your feelings about Dom in these first two sections of the story?
I have mixed feelings about Dom. Right at the very beginning, I was as enchanted by him as Eve was. He seemed funny and kind and sexy as all hell!! However, I got way sick and tired of this whole “don’t-ask-me-about-Rachel-or-I’ll-be-MAD” thing A LOT sooner than Eve did. I mean, for real. I can get being devastated by an ex and that loss. But after a certain amount of time it’s just, like, DUDE! Get over yourself! You’re either ready to be in a new relationship or your not, and I’m so not letting you jerk me around while you figure it out! There was something very Max DeWinter about him (which is no surprise, considering the many obvious similarities), but I think that the reason this didn’t bother me as much with Max as it did with Dom is that Max had the oodles of charm to pull it off, and Dom so just doesn’t!
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?
Ohmygoodness YES!! Of course!! The only way, I think, you could miss them is if you’ve never read Rebecca! Especially when Eve begins with such strong foreshadowing to a broken romance and destroyed way of life all centered around a house…yeah. I definitely heard the echoes! The only thing that really bugged me, actually, was that Rebecca was actually brought up within the story as being just like the story currently happening. Stuff like that just never quite sits right with me – it’s like yelling a subtext at the top of your lungs, hitting the reader about the face with subtlety. I’d like to be trusted to get it on my own a bit more!
Well, y’all, there you have it! I’m sure it’ll be one of the last ones up, but I couldn’t miss out on the post completely, but better way later than intended than never at all! Happy reading!