Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Lantern Is A Beautifully Wrapped Literary Gift!

"And then, I saw it. Low on the ground,
riding a run of the path, a flame flickered
through the sparse hedge of firs. I felt the
old start of the heart. How could this be?
All logic denied the probability that this
was real, but there it was. I drew closer,
stared, blinked. There it was: the
candlelit lantern.
"Our signal. In the happiest year of my
life, the lantern on the path was the
sign that my fiance', Andre, was waiting
for me...
The candle bloomed inside the lantern.
I was astounded. It was the very same
lantern he once used... My fingers were
almost on the loop on the lid...
"The lantern flew away down the dark path."

The Lantern

By Deborah Lawrenson

Two women saw the lantern sitting on the ground outside. For one it brings happiness; the other dread...

The cover here is not what we received as our advanced readers' copy, so I'm disappointed that you will not see what I did! For me, after reading the novel, I prefer the gift package I now own!

First, let me highlight that The Lantern is clearly literary fiction. Because it is, frankly, so different from many of the books we routinely read, I wanted to include the definition of exactly what this means (footnote below).

For me, the wordsmith who provides us with literary fiction is recognizable immediately. It is a signal to me, this lover of mystery, suspense, action and adventure. It means: "Whoa...slow down and settle in for the duration...this writer wants us to savor her story, to merge into the setting and to garner from each word the pleasure of its meaning and the fluidity of its being selected to move us forward, seductively, rather than through edge-of-the seat drama... So, I did indeed settle in...

In fact, I don't think I've ever been suspended in suspense as long as I was in The Lantern... The author shares a morsel, a tidbit--just enough to give you another clue, but not enough to pull you away from the atmosphere, the rich, deep evocative... haunting...of her story...

Eve met Dom in a maze on the shores of Lake Geneva. However, in many ways, Dom kept her in a maze for many years thereafter. He admitted that he had been married before, but he would not talk about his wife or any part of their life. But Eve had fallen deeply in love and so when Dom started talking about moving, her friends and family were afraid she had lost her head, "and of course [she] had. Head, heart, mind and body. I wanted him and, miraculously, he wanted me."

"Les Genevriers. The name of the property is misleading, for there is only one low-spreading juniper, hardly noble enough to warrant such recognition. There is probably a story behind that, too. There are so many stories about the place.
"Up in the village, a wooded ten-minute climb up the hill, and the inhabitants all have tales about Les Genevriers: in the post office, the bar, the cafe, the community hall. The susurration in the trees on its land was their childhood music, a magical rustling that seemed to cool the hottest afternoon. The cellar had once been renowned for its vin de noix, a sweet walnut liquer. Then it was shut up for years, slumbering like a fairy castle on the hillside, and prey to forbidden explorations...
"Dom caught my hand. We were both imaginging the same scenes, in which our dream life together would evolve on the gravel paths leading under shaky oak, pine and fig trees, between topiary and low stone walls marking the shady spots with views down the wide valley, or up to the hilltop village crowned with its medieval castle. Tables and chairs where we would read or sip a cold drink, or offer each other fragments of our former lives while sinking into a state of complete contentment.
But there was already an occupant of Les Genevriers. She stopped from drifting through the rooms where she had lived all of her life...and gaze at the new visitors. "She is sure she has never seen them before...The strangeness is that they stare straight into her face, just as they look around her so intently, into the corners of the rooms, up to the cracked ceilings, the fissures in the walls, yet they don't acknowledge her presence..."

As the past and present collide there in Provence, readers move from the new life Eve and Dom have started, back decades to when Benedicte and her family lived and worked the land at the hamlet. Benedicte still haunted the place, endlessly trying to understand what had happened to her sister who had, after an argument with their brother,  refused to allow their home to be sold and the money divided...and disappeared...

Then as the past comes into the present--the lantern appearing on the roadway where Eve saw it, the smell of lavendar and other scents that came via the wind, and, finally, the figure of a woman, watching, Eve becomes desperate to learn more, to talk to Dom about what is happening. But she has learned that, somehow, there is a connection to Dom's former wife...and Dom is still not talking...

Come, readers, let us visit where it all happened:

"October winds post crisp deliveries of dry leaves, torn petals,
pine needles, and grit-rolled insects under sun-shrunken doors.
For generations, we women swept them up with the brush and
pan, on our knees. Twice a day, when the mistral raged.
There are one hundred and eighty different winds that blow across
Provence, all with their different and special names..
In case, you haven't haven't guessed by now, The Lantern is highly recommended!

Book Received Via
Amazon Vine



Literary fiction is a term that came into common usage during the early 1960s. The term is principally used to distinguish "serious fiction" which is a work that claims to hold literary merit, in comparison from genre fiction and popular fiction (i.e., paraliterature). In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more upon style, psychological depth, and character.[1][2] This is in contrast to Mainstream commercial fiction, which focuses more on narrative and plot. Literary fiction may also be characterized as lasting fiction — literature which continues to be read and in-demand many decades and perhaps centuries after the author has died.

What distinguishes literary fiction from other genres is subjective; and as in other artistic media, genres may overlap. Even so, literary fiction is generally characterized as distinctive based on its content and style ("literariness", the concern to be "writerly"). The term literary fiction is considered hard to define very precisely [3] but is commonly associated with the criteria used in literary awardsand marketing of certain kinds of novels, since literary prizes usually concern themselves with literary fiction, and their shortlists can give a working definition. You may read further here...

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  1. Lovely location, and your review really makes me want to read this. Plus our reading group will be making their choices soon--I think I'll mention this one.

  2. Sheila, I'm so glad to have provided you, and potentially your reading group, with a possibility. If you all enjoy literary fiction, you will want to savor this one...

    Best, Glenda