Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lantern Group Read: Parts 3 & 4

This week we read parts 3 and 4 of Deborah Lawrenson's The Lantern and they were gripping! I had to really force myself not to read the last part immediately. But I wanted to be able to answer the questions for this week properly so I resisted. I also admittedly checked my inbox frequently to be ready when the questions came in so that I could answer them and finish the book! (They came in an hour ago and here I am already.)

So, here are this week's questions from Kailana of The Written World -- as you can guess, these are questions for the middle of the story so they are quite SPOILERY. Please don't read this post if you plan on reading this book!

1. The title of this book is The Lantern, and a lantern makes an appearance in both of the stories. In Benedicte’s past, it had a meaning, but what do you think the lantern signifies in her future and in Eve’s story?

I'm guessing it's the same lantern that was left behind by Andre? If Benedicte was haunted (and her ghost seems to be there now as the lady in the grey dress, right?), then I'm not sure the lantern is linked to Eve but just to the property. After all, it never leads her anywhere -- it just shows up.

2. 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?

I'm still not entirely sure why the scents are included to the degree that they are. It might turn out to all just be for atmosphere. I do think it's interesting though that Marthe's haunting scent is interpreted by Eve as being Rachel's. It's a property with a long history (and even a perfumer that she knows about) so I'm not sure why she doesn't make that connection at all. If she's willing to accept that there is a scented ghost, why wouldn't it be the perfume maker? Why would it be the ex-wife that supposedly died of cancer and never lived in the house? Why would it haunt her when she wouldn't recognize the scent? That would be a stupid ghost. ;)

3. What do you think of the combining storyline of Marthe? She connects Benedicte, Eve, and Rachel. What do you think will be revealed about this connection in the next sections?

I haven't thought about this at all while reading. There are a load of current novels that have a past narrative and a present one that are strongly linked by research but this doesn't feel like one of those. We are finding out much more about Marthe than Eve or Rachel ever did and their research is not a real part of the story (except for making Dom upset). If it wasn't for Benedicte, we wouldn't know much about Marthe at all. So I guess I've just kept the stories separate for the most part and have seen them as just coincidentally intersecting. I wonder if in the fifth part they will really collide.

4. Now that things are beginning to move along, what do you think of the characters? Are any standing out for you? Do you particularly like any? Dislike any?

Well, Andre turned out to be a real piece, didn't he? I totally didn't see that coming. I thought he was going to be outed for flirting, not for having a wife and two kids! That was probably the first time I really had to do an about-face on how I felt about a character. The others all seem to be consistent for the most part. I still don't really especially like any of them. Benedicte was the closest but she kind of messed everything up in that whole situation with Pierre and Marthe. Marthe's not bad but I just don't feel a lot for her except sympathy that she basically got ambushed. Eve is driving me up the wall and Dom is still an enigma. And Sabine's "Mrs. Danvers move" was somewhat amusing even though I saw it coming -- getting Eve to research Marthe. Evil! (Don't want to spoil Rebecca for those who haven't read it.)

5. What do you think really happened to Marthe and Annette? What do you think the significance of the bones in the pool are to the story? Especially now that it has been revealed that Rachel is also dead.

I thought it was obvious that Pierre killed them while Benedicte was away. The first bones found were a woman in her fifties and then there was a younger woman. It sounds like Marthe and Annette to me especially since we know from Eve's research that Marthe disappeared "at the height of her success" (page 159). Plus the pool was going in when Pierre showed up (although one skeleton was found in the bordering soil, not under the pool). I just don't see how/why Dom could have buried his wife on someone else's property. Why would you bury someone and then buy the property later and forge a tangible link with it? Then again, that sounds just like something that would happen in a novel. :)

6. Do you have any other things you think are significant to talk about? Are there any other predictions to be made for the last two sections of the book?

I have no idea what will happen next! Will we find out about Rachel? I think there's a good chance that she really just died of cancer and is buried in a normal way somewhere and Eve is just exaggerating and sabotaging her relationship. But Dom's a "man who has done a terrible thing" (page 5) -- I'm just not sure if it's emotional or physical. And why wasn't there an obituary when Eve did the web search for Rachel? And, of course, there are the missing local girls ... hmm. Although killing your annoying (possibly cheating) wife is much different than ambushing random young local girls.

Benedicte's story seems to be mostly over except for whatever happens to Pierre (which I hope is especially gruesome). If anything else exceptional happens to her, it will be a real shocker.

7. 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?

This book had already caught my interest before the read-along was announced so this just got me to read the book sooner than I intended. I put it on my library list and then, as I still had 40 names ahead of me, I ended up buying it instead! I guess that worked out well for Harper. ;) I'm really liking this book. I wouldn't say loving it but yes, it's definitely meeting my expectations. I was hoping for a fun, creepy read and it's certainly turning out to be just that. I'll finish the last part in the next hour (only 76 pages) and know for sure!

Off to (hopefully) witness Pierre's untimely death,


  1. I felt bad for Benedicte during the whole Andre fiasco. It would really suck to find out that someone you loved and thought you trusted was already married.

  2. I felt bad for Benedicte during the whole Andre fiasco. It would really suck to find out that someone you loved and thought you trusted was already married.

  3. Yes, Andre was a real shock. I kept thinking that he would somehow be a victim of Pierre's evil, not that he would turn out to be a married guy with kids.

    I like the use of the lantern as a small, little spoken of bridge between the two stories. Lawrenson doesn't go on and on about it but it does hold so much meaning for Benedicte's story and I certainly think it is meant to shed light on, pardon the pun, the issues with Dom and Eve's relationship.

    I think the scent aspects of the book make even more sense now that we learn what Marthe's job became and I think they work beautifully in giving dimension to the story. I don't think it odd that Eve doesn't connect the scents in her house with Marthe because remember Marthe didn't create those scents in that home either and she didn't live their most of her life, so it wouldn't necessarily lead anyone to think that she was haunting the place, whereas if Rachel was dead by her husband's hand, it would make some sense that she was haunting whatever space Dom occupied.

    I'm in agreement that it has to be Marthe and Annette down by the pool. It all seems so perfectly set up for Pierre to have done them in considering his behavior there at the time and his history of killing things.

    I'm am really loving the book thus far. I am not as enamored of it as I am with Rebecca, or with my favorite contemporary gothic novel, The Thirteenth Tale, but I do like it very, very much.

  4. I adore everything about this story and am so glad that I am joining the readalong! A good ole haunting story for the fall season is just the ticket.

  5. I am really enjoying this book. Great answers to the questions! I am looking forward to the discussion of the last sections.

  6. Sounds like you are enjoying it!

  7. Bookswithout - Oh, that was so awful. Benedicte did not deserve that at all.

    Carl - True about Eve not linking Marthe with the house. Although I would be suspicious with the scents/grey lady combination going on! And I really want to re-read Rebecca now -- and The Thirteenth Tale!

    Natalie - This was a great pick for a group read, wasn't it?!

    Kailana - Great questions! It's really interesting to think a little deeper about a book like this that I would normally just breeze through in a couple of days.

    Al - Definitely!

  8. Late to the party, late to the party! I just wanted to say that I really agree with your answers on questions 1 and 3. I really felt like the plots were very, very separate and it was the *place* that tied them together at this point.

    I hope you've enjoyed the last portion!