Every summer weekend, somewhere close to home, we can find ourselves a village brocante to visit. Increasingly, as well as the French ‘antiques’, families clearing out old clothes and toys and other general bric-a-brac, there is often an English second hand book stall, or two. One of my lucky finds recently was The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson.
Set in Provence and inspired by the atmospheric, crumbling old house owned by Deborah and her husband this is an intriguing read. It is a book full of mystery and secrets; the secrets of the past, of the house Les Genevriers, and of the different people we meet who live or have lived there. It is also full of the scents that change with the seasons and that Deborah’s descriptions really bring to life. The perfumes of Provence, the lavender especially, play a big part and the character of Marthe Lincel, a blind girl who goes on to make her fortune in the perfume industry, is particularly fascinating. Deborah also has a blog where she has recently announced she is working on more stories set in this area, and in particular Marthe’s life during the war (see here). I was rather excited to read this, and am looking forward to the Lavender Field.
The Lantern had me gripped from the beginning, desperate to find out what was happening, as the past and present seemed to blur and mingle. The passion and the darkness of the new owners, who to trust, who’s secrets would be revealed, who is guilty, what are they guilty of and how would the past meet the present. Many a late night was had as I employed the ‘just one more chapter’ policy again and again. This book contains so much I will definitely read it again, probably to refresh my memory before reading more about Marthe in The Lavender Field.