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Deborah Lawrenson was our Guest Editor in August 2011 - click here - to see the books that inspired her writing.
Deborah Lawrenson spent her childhood moving around the world with diplomatic service parents, from Kuwait to China, Belgium, Luxembourg and Singapore. She graduated from Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is the author of five previous novels, including The Art of Falling, chosen for the prestigious WHSmith Fresh Talent promotion, and Songs of Blue and Gold, inspired by the life of writer-traveller Lawrence Durrell.
Deborah is married with a daughter, and lives in Kent. The family spends as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, France, which is the atmospheric setting for The Lantern.
Present day. On a lush Mediterranean island off the French coast, Ellie has accepted a commission to restore an abandoned garden. It seems idyllic, but the longer Ellie spends at the house and garden, the more she senses darkness, and a lingering evil that seems to haunt her. Second World War. Two very different women have their lives irrevocably changed: Iris, a junior intelligence officer in London and Marthe, a blind girl who works in the lavender fields of Provence and is slowly drawn into the heart of the Resistance. As secret messages are passed in scent and planes land by moonlight, danger comes ever closer...
Shortlisted for the RNA Epic Romantic Novel Award 2012. Featured on The TV Book Club on More4 on 26 Jun 2011. A brooding contemporary gothic love story, beautifully told with rich and sensual imagery. Moving at a cracking pace it cleverly intertwines stories and events, both past and present, into a mystery that must be solved by Eve whose whirlwind romance with the charming Dom is not quite as it seems. Deborah Lawrenson on why she wrote The Lantern…‘When my husband and I bought an atmospheric, crumbling old house in Provence, we camped on stone floors and hoped for the best. I re-read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and wondered…what if I had come here knowing less about the man I was with?The Lantern explores the timeless fears of the unknown. The uncertainty when the first stages of an idyllic romance are over and real life begins, in this case Eve and Dom settling down to a life together in their new home. It’s also a novel of the senses. As well as vivid visual descriptions of the landscape, I’ve tried to evoke smells, tastes and sounds until there is an inescapable feeling, through the characters of Eve and Benedicte, that there is also a sixth sense in play: an instinctive feeling of foreboding that cannot be explained rationally. Several events in the novel are true. A ceiling did collapse. The mysterious perfume is real in that I smell it but never find a source. The light that flickers disconcertingly, the discovery of rooms we didn’t know were there, the making of the walnut wine, the man who composes music: none of these are invented either.‘Les Genevriers’ (not the property’s real name) is described as we found it, abandoned yet magical. The Luberon area is renowned for its hilltop villages, lavender, abundant fruit and clear bright light. The idea of a blind perfumer came from the realisation that there were strips of Braille on the packaging used by beauty product brand L’Occitane en Provence, which is based at Manosque close to the lavender fields.
In the horseshoe bay of Kalami in Corfu, a love affair begins between a novelist and a woman escaping scandal. Years later, her daughter Melissa, running from her own past, returns to the island. Melissa's life in England is in disarray.
The Daily Mail, which is quoted on the front cover and with whom the author has worked, dubbed this “… the new Captain Corelli or perhaps the new Birdsong” which personally I feel is very misleading. Yes, this is a war-time search novel but it’s far lighter than either of those. It’s a dual time tale, Italy, World War II and the present with two love stories intriguingly told. Interestingly the author self-published it and did a good marketing job, for the bookshop chain Ottakars picked it as a main selection which brought it to the notice of the major publisher Random House. A nice success story in itself. Also interestingly the cover bears the same library photo as the recent Penguin edition of H E Bates’ Fair Stood the Wind for France, something that happens occasionally but not often. Comparison: Robert Ryan, Santa Montefiore, Douglas Kennedy. Similar this month: Jodi Picoult, Rosie Thomas.