The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, Read-a-Long Week 3

I felt horrible to miss last week’s read-a-long post for The Lantern, but as my last post mentioned, I was just deep in the middle of a funk! But I’ve worked my way out of it,  and I can’t wait to share the rest of my thoughts on this wonderful, beautiful fall-time book! On to the questions, sent to us this week by the lovely Heather! As always, you can find the other participants’ answers here!

1. Now that it’s all said and done; what did you think of the book? Did you see the ending coming?

Yes and no. I mean, not in the detail-y way. More in the whole, you know, I began to think about 75% of the way through that things were going to end up working out between Dom and Eve – she was just too damn in love with him throughout the rest of the novel. I did not, however, see Benedicte’s blindness coming, and almost felt that it was a bit of a let-down on Lawrenson’s part that the ghosts could be explained away medically, in essence. It would have been much more interesting, in my book, if she had just left them up as visions (then again, I did kind of like the circularity that the blindness theme presented, so who knows…). I also don’t know how I feel about them choosing to stay in the house – I don’t think I could handle that, in the same situation!

Reading that paragraph makes it sounds like a I had a whole host of problems with the end/whole of the book, but I didn’t. I LOVED the twists with Pierre and the dead bodies, and I thought the whole thing was just the kind of sensory overload I was looking for! I guess I just have a few things still niggling me.

2. What do you think of the characters? Lawrenson took us on a twisty little ride there, I had trouble deciding who was good and who wasn’t for a while there! What do you think of Dom? Of Sabine? Rachel?

I think the only person I was really ever iffy about was Sabine. Don’t get me wrong – I was flat out wrong about Dom. I totally had him pegged as the creepy murdering type, and was actually pleasantly surprised by how well-done Lawrenson was able to work out that twist in the story, especially as it did ‘excuse’ some of Dom’s more moody behavior as well as some of the guilt he was feeling.

However, with Sabine I just couldn’t figure out where she was coming from. Of course, that was revealed by the end of reading, but for the rest of the novel I just couldn’t decide where she was coming from or what she was doing there. I was never really concerned about Rachel, as she was dead and there wasn’t much the story was going to do to change that, but I did like the way Eve and Rachel ‘interacted’ throughout the story. I also think I’m kind of glad that Eve and Dom ended up together, even thought I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW SHE STAYED THAT LONG. See my last read-a-long post for my quibbles with Eve and this whole part of the story.

3. Pierre was such a conflicted character. In the end, do you think he killed Marthe and Annette, or did the fall to their deaths because of their blindness?

To be honest, I never gave credit to the fact that Marthe and Annette fell to their deaths. I mean, true, it could have happened, but then why would Pierre have buried the bodies and not just left them? And how ‘convenient’ was it that, after the visit, Marthe suddenly changed her tune and started talking about how much she wanted to sell and how much she hated Benedicte? Nope, I never bought it – I always believed, and still do, that Pierre is such a thoroughly bad guy that he killed them both, cut Benedicte and Marthe’s ties post-mortem, and disappeared to die drunk, old, and alone.

Pierre is the perfect example of a character who I LOVE to hate, who is so evil that it makes me want to yell, makes my skin crawl, but he was so well-written that I just couldn’t get enough of him!

4. The book is being compared to Rebecca and Daphne du Maurier’s writing. Do you think the book lives up to that description?

If nothing else, I think the books both share such beautiful prose that the rest doesn’t even matter to me. I mean, yes, obviously there are other similarities – a creepy house with a deep history, a young man tortured by his past lover, deceit and lies and mistrust and all those other fun themes. But Lawrenson definitely wrote her own book, though, so I think that the deepest connection the two share is that they both create, so vividly in the mind of the reader, a world and a relationship full of dark corners and dusty secrets, using sights and smells and touches and a deep knowledge of humans to create a world where the reader loves to live almost as much as the characters themselves. If only we could get more and more books like that!

5. Did you have any problems with the book? Narration? Plot? The back and forth between two different characters and times?

See: problems with Eve, the disease causing the ghostly apparitions, staying at Les Genevriers.

6. Do you think Lawrenson tied both stories together well in the end? Is there anything she could/should have done differently?

I don’t think so! I feel like I’m being so repetitive, but honestly, the only thing I really couldn’t accept at the end was the fact that they decided to stay in that house! I mean, yeah, I guess since everything spooky was ‘explained’ – another problem I had with the story – it wouldn’t necessarily matter, but I really don’t know if I could handle staying in a place where there were skeletons found in my pool and a whole host of angry memories locked up in the walls. I also think it would have been far more interesting to see where that whole buried treasure plot line led, as it didn’t really go anywhere and felt like that was kind of an unnecessary plot addition (stop me if I missed something too huge!)

7. One problem I had with the novel is the reliability of the narrators. Do you think any of them were telling the truth? Which ones?

I think part of the thing that worked so well for The Lantern was that the narrators were kind of all unreliable – Benedicte never really knew the truth about what happened to her sister (or her brother) and so everything she tells us is inherently unreliable. And Eve is too preoccupied with Rachel to know/tell the full truth about Dom. However, it works in this story because the truth comes fully to light at the end, and the secrets along the way are just what keep the tension going, stringing the reader along behind!

Well, folks, there you have it! I’m super stoked that I was able to play a bit of catch up this week (I’m now two weeks behind on the Fragile Things read-a-long, but by God I will be there next week to finish up the discussion) and expect to see a few more reviews throughout the week, as well as a new vlog if things go well (this one may NOT be Library Loot, if you can believe it, as I love the vlogging format and would like to see how it goes to use it as a way to review books as well!) Hope that your autumn is as beautiful there as it is here, and happy reading to all!


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. softdrink
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 01:22:05

    I’m totally with you on Sabine. I knew she was fishing for more info on Rachel, but I didn’t like her and I didn’t trust her, and I felt she kind of petered out at the end. Like she needed to be eviler or something.


  2. Kailana
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 15:08:12

    I hear you on being behind. I won’t get my post up for this until tomorrow because I want to catch-up on Fragile Things today. I am actually going to be happy when the read-a-longs are all caught up because I am so disorganized lately!

    Anyway, I am glad we did this as a read-a-long. I have enjoyed all of the posts and different ideas that each person brings up. It was a lot of fun!


  3. Kate
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 18:18:05

    I actually really liked that they stayed! Honestly, it never crossed my mind that they wouldn’t. Even despite Manderlay having been burnt to the ground 🙂 No, seriously, the place, Les Genevries, was such a key plot point that I never imagined that we’d be left without it in the end, and it didn’t even cross my mind about, you know, skeletons in the pool, aborted foetus buried in the garden, etc. Then again I spend a lot of time remembering that I’m probably walking over graves every place I go where I live, so maybe I’m the one with the twisted viewpoint 🙂


  4. Chelsea
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 18:47:33

    softdrink – Right?! I mean, I know Sabine provided a link between Rachel, Benedicte, Eve, and the house, but she was so…bleh. In love with Rachel, but not, and there was just something…niggling about her. I can’t put my finger on it, but I didn’t like it.

    Kailana – I’m not even going to try and catch up on Fragile Things this week (second week running) I’ve got too many other burners burning now, and I’m just going to wait and finish strong in the last week! And I couldn’t agree with you more about loving the read-a-long, especially because this one is my first (along with Fragile Things, so I guess technically second)

    Kate – I don’t think that’s twisted at all! I’m sure, if I didn’t live in a place that was so suburb-y I might have the same thoughts. And I can even *kind of* understand how they stayed in terms of the arc of the story and the importance of the house to the narrative events. I just couldn’t have done it. Fetusus? Phantom scents? Skeletons and secret rooms? Plus a semi-murdering husband? I’m out. SO out.


  5. Caroline
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 18:51:08

    I didn’t really pay all that much attention to Sabine but now that I read your thoughts, I must admit, she was annoying. She had her reasons but during the novel nothing was clear.
    I don’t see why they wouldn’t stay at the house since there was no ghost (which really was too bad).
    I think it is a flawed novel but I did really not have to force myself to finish it I had to force myself to not read it in one go.


    • Chelsea
      Oct 26, 2011 @ 21:03:02

      Caroline – Sabine was one of the most frustrating characters for me! I mean, like you said, I know WHY she was there (she had her necessary reasons) but she was just so…I don’t know. She wasn’t bad, and she wasn’t necessarily good, so it just really missed the mark for me. And I guess I just don’t think I could have stayed in the house (as Eve, not Benedicte) after I heard about the two murders, the aborted baby buried in the yard, the ghost of Benedicte hanging around – it would have been way too much for me! And I think you may have hit the nail on the head when it comes to describing the book – good, but not great, and never something I had to make myself read!

      Danielle – I hadn’t ever considered the ramifications of this genetic disease in terms of how it could prove to Benedicte that Pierre was totally scum-bag lying the whole time. Good call!! And I agree with all of the character (minus Pierre) lacking the full *oopmh* of whatever trait they were supposed to have – no one was as mean, nice, mysterious, or aloof as they wanted you to believe. So glad we were all able to read this book when we did!


  6. Danielle
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 03:41:30

    Reading your answers–especially the first it just dawns on me that since Benedicte went blind she must have suffered from the same sort of disease that Marthe had–so it was through no fault of Benedicte’s that Marthe lost her sight. Not that I ever thought it was Benedicte’s fault, but by then Marthe was gone so she couldn’t have been proven wrong. I was expecting Sabine to be sort of nasty, but like Dom, she sort of redeemed herself at the end. No one except Pierre was half as bad as I thought they might be. This was a really good autumn read–I agree!


  7. Trackback: The R.I.P. VI Challenge: A Wrap-Up « Book Maven’s Blog

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