The Lantern (group read, week 3) by

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This is the final week of our group read of The Lantern, and it was a really good experience. First off because I don’t think I would have read this one without the group prompting me to. And Secondly because I thought about it a lot more than I otherwise would have. Hats off to Carl for this, and for the RIP challenge in general of course.

On to the questions, but first! spoiler warning is in effect.

That’d be major spoilers, right from the first question so no moaning if you read on and find out something you didn’t want to know.

The Lantern - Deborah Lawrenson

The Lantern - Deborah Lawrenson

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

    I really enjoyed it. Much more than I thought I would after opening the first page. As I mentioned earlier I thought the style of writing too overdone and flowery when I first began to read it, but after that first page I really felt it worked, both because of the type of book it was, and because the author was careful in its use. As for the ending… well I try not to think too hard about where a book is going to end up, I like to enjoy the journey. That being said I did think that it would turn out well for Eve. And I hoped for Dom too. I know, he was an arse and an eejit to keep everything hidden and secretive, but still. I hoped for the best.

    My initial thought on Benedict was that she was a ghost when she mentioned the visitors, but then when she described being haunted I discounted that. Guess I shouldn’t’ve eh.

  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?

    Well as I just said in the previous answer :) Dom was an arse. And an eejit. In pretty equal amounts. Eve was also an eejit, although less of an arse. Sabine I didn’t really like. She had too much of her own agenda going on. And her mysterious hints and prompts only seemed to make the situation worse for Eve and her own speculations.

    Rachel… Well if what Dom says is true she was a manipulative bitch. And I mean that in the scheming self-serving sense of bitch. Of course she probably had serious serious issues, and had she been a central character with her own POV, well, then maybe I’d be giving out that no one was able to help her. But the situation she put Dom in was terrible. Was it, or was it not euthanasia? Was it murder? I don’t know.

    Pierre was the evil character that gave us someone to hate. Important, as someone already mentioned, was it Carl? because as a reader we were left so uncertain about so many of the characters and their motivation, so it was nice to have someone who had no shades of grey.

    As for Benedicte, I just felt very sorry for her. It seemed that so much of her life was a disappointment to her. Her dreams almost realised only to be snatched away. But maybe some happiness at the very end. Not enough though.

  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?

    I don’t think he was conflicted. I think he murdered Marthe & Annette. Either in a drunken rage, or because he knew that he couldn’t control them like he could Benedicte. And I think some part of Benedicte knew that as well, and so she felt guilty, but couldn’t quite figure out why and so accepted that Marthe no longer wanted to talk to her. Easier to believe that I think that to believe someone you love is dead.

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

    Well, it has been so very long since I’ve read Rebecca that I can’t really comment on this. I know it has echoes of Rebecca, intentional echoes that are even pointed out in the novel itself, and the story is somewhat familiar to Du Maurier’s tale of a new wife haunted by an old. But I’d have to reread Rebecca to make up my mind…

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

    A little at first, with just figuring out who was who, and when. But not once I had the characters straight in my head.

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

    I think she did a great job. I could have wished for a happier ending for Benedicte maybe, but I don’t know. I liked the ending, but I didn’t love it.

  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 liked that. Everyone was a suspect, and everyone had their own motives and reasons, doubts and speculations. As for the truth, I think maybe they all told their own version of the truth. And none of them told the objective truth. Is that avoiding the question a little?

    Perhaps, but it is my truth. I think that Dom eventually told Eve what he remembered happening. But he wasn’t privvy to all of Rachel’s thoughts and feelings, all of her experiences, so of course he couldn’t tell the truth about her. But he did tell the truth about what he experienced from her. If that makes sense?

    And Benedicte, she told the truth, sometimes even the bits she had hidden from herself. But some truths I don’t think she could face. The possibility that Marthe was dead was one I think she shied away from. Both because it would make her brother a murderer, which maybe she could have dealt with, she hated him I think. But the fact that Marthe was gone for good, and that maybe if she had stayed should could have done something to save her. I don’t think that Benedicte wanted to examine that, and so she let herself be hurt by believing that Marthe was alive but not talking to her.

    Sabine, no. She told various truths at various times to prompt a response. Maybe in the end, once Marthe’s story was being investigated she began to tell the real truth, but up until then she was using bits and pieces that served her agenda.

  8. Other responses to these questions : Stainless Steel Droppings ; Beauty is a sleeping cat ; Somewhere I have never travelled ; Piling on the books ; Books without any pictures ; Estella’s revenge ; We be reading ; What Kate’s reading

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12 Responses

  1. Carl V. says:

    I'm the same way, I rarely try to think ahead about what might occur. I just like the ride, be it books or films.

    Benedicte was really a tragic character in this one. Tortured by her brother, living parts of her life for her sister, caring for her mother, betrayed by her one true love. It makes me happy that she ends up being a ghost. Hopefully she will enjoy living with Dom and Eve and their child.

    Pierre was a great character to love to hate, wasn't he. Man what a devious and depraved twit he was.

    I hadn't mentioned this before, but like you I suspected Benedicte at least guessed at the true fate of Marthe. She knew in her heart that Marthe wouldn't treat her that way and knew Pierre enough to know his lies. I just thought of this, but what if she was actually the one that buried Annette? It doesn't make much sense that the two were in different places. Marthe could have fell or been murdered and I could see Pierre hiding her body but I could also see him just leaving Annette out for Benedicte to deal with just because he was so awful.

    I really liked the book. Is it going to be one of my cherished reads? No, but I did really like it and it is a book that I would recommend with confidence to others. It hit the perfect notes for a R.I.P. read in spite of its occasional short comings.

    So wonderful that you came along on this group read, Fence.

    • Fence says:

      I don't know about her burying Annette, I mean, I think that would mean she really really knew. But then again she did suffer memory loss, or at least, so she said…

  2. Kailana says:

    I am glad you really enjoyed this book. I am glad it was a read-a-long. It was fun!
    Kailana´s last blog post ..Friday Reads – 15th Edition and Week in Review (38)

  3. Caroline says:

    Nobody really mentioned the murder in their answers. Was it or was it not. Hard to say. What would I have done if at the very last moment the person would have changed her mind? I know it is a bit on the pedantic side but i would have liked to know what "cancer" she had. I think it's too easy to just choose this illness in such a general way.

    It would have been more believable. But maybe that's the point? Maybe she didn't have cancer…
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern – Group Read Week III (Part 5)

    • Fence says:

      It is hard to say. I mean, if that is what she said then Dom should not have gone ahead with it. Full stop. But if she was such of a liar then you can sort of understand why.

      But then again, was Dom telling the truth either? Who knows.

  4. I couldn't believe a single thing Dom said. I didn't trust him, and felt a little disappointed that Eve didn't look for the evidence that proved Rachel was in a hospital and had cancer. Another blogger pointed out why they didn't specify the type of cancer, which is a good point, since the book was so descriptive about everything. Perhaps that was a hidden clue to the fact that the book should always be questioned about possible theories, but I think it just slipped up on that part.

    Overall a good book, I still enjoyed it.
    Natalie ~ the Coffee´s last blog post ..The Lantern Group Read, Final Discussion

    • Fence says:

      I think that she meant us to believe Dom in the end, otherwise would lawrenson really have finished her book with Eve & Dom together. That'd be too horrible if he was a cold-blooded murderer.

  5. Kelly says:

    I wasn't part of the group read but picked the book up because your description made it look interesting! It was… ish… I just finished it… but to be honest, while it started out promisingly, by the end I was disappointed.

    For one thing, it was too too too much like Rebecca, one of my most cherished girlhood favorites, and because there was even a reference to it in the story, not to mention all over the cover blurbs, the ending was obvious from the beginning. I was really hoping that Dom would have turned out to have been the murderer of the missing girls, just for something different, to break it free from the formula. (And what a cop-out THAT story line turned out to be, with all of their disappearances unrelated. Lame.) Dom didn't matter to me; in fact, I didn't like him, and wasn't all that invested in the characters so didn't care how things turned out for them.

    Except for Benedicte. I REALLY liked her and my heart broke for her when she found out about Andre, when she was 'abandoned' by her sister, when Pierre was torturing her (and the poor kitten!!!!), etc. So many heartaches. I would have loved the entire book to have been about her, though the idea of switching back and forth between stories was a good one. Too bad only one of the stories was worth reading (IMO, of course :).

    The author was very skilled and I liked her style, which was fresh and evocative; I just thought she followed too closely an already established classic and that made the end product kind of boring and predictable. I'd suspected from the beginning, as you had, that Benedicte was a ghost in the house, so still alive, kind of, and I was happy to see her again. Though as you said, what kind of an ending is that for her? Not one of the Greats, but I gobbled it up in a day and a half, so maybe it's one of the Goods.
    Kelly´s last blog post ..What a punkin

    • Fence says:

      Very much not one of the greats, but yes, a good solid read. I do think that Benedicte was the best thing about it.

      A lot of people have made that comparison with de Maurier, as the author does herself, but I haven't read that in ages and ages and don't really remember it. There is even the possibility that I didn't actually read it but just remember the story from the telly… So I didn't have that comparison to make.

      On Carl's blog he shares an email he received from Lawrenson, which I think makes for interesting reading. She says that yes there is a lot of Rebecca there, but also Jane Eyre, which is more subtle.

  6. Kelly says:

    I caught the Jane Eyre undertones in at least one place, I can't remember where–I thought about Rochester keeping his mad wife locked away. This is another all-time favorite book of mine. I wish she hadn't made ANY forays into either Du Maurier or Bronte but instead had done her own original work; she's obviously talented enough. It seems to me she limited herself by using those stories as blueprints for her own. But it's okay. Hopefully she has dozens more books in her and I look forward to trying them out! She is an excellent writer.
    Kelly´s last blog post ..What a punkin

  7. Kelly says:

    Oh, yay! Checking out your link now. :)
    Kelly´s last blog post ..What a punkin