The Lantern

I tend to tread carefully when people tell me a book is just as good as some other book or that it is one of the best books ever written. The Lantern has been compared to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. And in some ways they are similar.

The Lantern starts off when a couple meets. She is a translator and he is a mysterious business man of independent means. After a whirlwind romance they move in together in a falling down mansion in France. Les Genevriers has been abandoned for years and was in total disrepair but Eve and Dom loved it. Dom bought the house and the surrounding lands and they began their solitary life together. They didn't marry - because Dom's first wife Rachel was a constant presence.

The story line moves between the present with Eve and Dom in the house and the past whose voice is Benedicte, one of the last of the family of the original owners. Benedicte is haunted by the ghost of her brother Pierre - who as a boy was a menace to himself and others. Benedicte tells the story of her life as a child and of the treasure that is supposed to be buried on the property.

Eve, who is blissful in her ignorance of Dom's previous life is increasing haunted by sights and sounds that she can't quite explain. Smells, breezes, strange lanterns left lighted on the path all have her concerned. At a dinner with some of their neighbors, Eve is introduced to Sabine. The conversation turns to the alleged ghosts and strange happenings that occur in the village and at Les Genevries. Sabine believes that she has met Dom before but he denies it. This encounter with Sabine has Eve wondering about Dom's previous life and his first wife. As Sabine and Eve become closer as friends, Eve becomes more insistent that Dom tell her about Rachel.

The story lines continue on their own paths, gradually coming together. The story is actually quite good. Eve makes for an interesting character. You never really know just what is keeping her tied to Dom. And Dom's own mysterious past follows him almost through to the end of the book. The story did have elements of Rebecca. A young girl falling in love with a mysterious older man, the first wife hanging like a shadow over the new relationship, the third person seeking to interfere with the new relationship. Add to that just a touch of the supernatural and you have a thoroughly enjoyable read.

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