Long term relationships need trust and communication to continue growing. Secrets and small lies by omission can create thoughts of the worst kind, and can change the dynamic of a relationship.
In The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, we are transported to the provincial countryside, and ensconced into the old and beautiful Les Genevriers, a turn of the century farm house. Eve is enchanted with her budding romantic relationship with an older man of means. Dom is kind and caring, full of charm, and as the couple’s love grows, Eve finds a happiness she did not expect existed. Finding and moving to the beautiful home is an experience of dreamlike proportions. The romance fills her and she slowly loses contact with her family and friends. She needs only Dom to fill her needs. He is encouraging and loving, suggesting she take this time to work on a project she loves, writing. His suggestions meets with more approval as she becomes more deeply entranced with him.
Exploring and setting about repairs on this beautiful old home becomes an adventure as they find hidden rooms and small treasures. As they explore the here and now, we are also being given a glimpse into the life of the prior owner of the home, Benedicte Lincel, a young woman who leads a life of beauty due to the area she lives, and yet endures much heartbreak and tragedy. The stories are told conjointly and yet separately.
As Eve ventures into the writing arena she meets many of the townspeople. As she continues in her attempts, she begins to stumble on questions about the man she loves. He seems to be known in the area, yet he attempts to hide the fact. As she begins to ask questions she is only met with silence or, even worse, refusal of discussion. As her perfect life begins to erode, a body is found on the property, causing further damage to their once idyllic days. And even as Eve tries to dig further, she begins to see a woman in the gardens, and smell enchanting smells that draw her. Has Dom become a stranger to her, or did she ever really know him? Is her life in danger, and who is the strange woman in her garden?
Lawrenson has woven an intricate tale of life and love. As you follow Eve on her journey, you also find a ghostly presence of Benedicte as she lives her life in the same home, yet on a different plane of existence. As you read, and if you have any sensitivity to those who have gone before, you can feel the faint shadowing of the two different time lines interconnecting in a strange and fascinating way. Almost like the shadowy presence of the lives of those who lived before and yet are being enacted even as Eve tries to understand the life she is now leading, which has become shrouded in danger. Full of lies and secrets, it almost seems as though her pain draws those from the past to the present, as young Benedicte too meets her demons.
The characters and enhancements are well done, and the mystery draws you in, pulling you into a strange and eerie world where secrets and lies have damaged the lives of those who want nothing more than happiness.
I enjoyed the story and would recommend it to the light romance fan, as well as those who enjoy suspense. While somewhat historical, it lacks the actual historical education involved in many fictions, although the light sprinkling of history is certainly interesting. This would be a great find for a book club or reading group. The questions engendered would create some interesting dialogue on what we need to know about the past of those close to us. This would be an interesting book for discussion.