The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

Sophie tells us about her Christmas reading…..


On Saturday 5th December I went to Penshurst Place and found that there was a Christmas market in full flow. There were the usual stalls selling artisan breads, homemade cheeses and pickles, Kentish apple juice and  a mouth-watering cookie stand which my family were drawn to but my attention was caught by a banner flapping in the wind – Penshurst Authors. I wandered over to the table, ignoring my husband’s eye-roll as he noted I was off on another “writing thing” and got chatting to the lady manning the stall. Her name was Deborah Lawrenson and she was there, with some other local authors, to sell some of her books.

I told Deborah that I was a member of a writing group and admitted that I was trying to write a novel. She was very encouraging. I purchased The Lantern and Deborah kindly agreed to come along to one of our meetings to talk to The Woldingham Writers’ Group. By this time my husband was indicating that it was time to go so we returned to our car, cookie crumbs in our wake.

I started reading the Lantern on the journey home and was immediately entranced by the story that started to unfold but I had to put it aside for a while as my task before starting the second draft of my own novel was to read around my genre – I can highly recommend The Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen, the first two books of which I devoured during December. I was finally able to return to The Lantern on Christmas Eve and after reading a few chapters before bed I fell asleep and dreamt that I was in Provence amongst the lavender.

The Lantern was intended as a homage to Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, one of my favourite books. The setting, a crumbling hamlet in Provence is powerfully described. Full of emotional tension the book tells the tale of its current inhabitants, a young woman who finds her partner more mysterious the longer they live together and of its previous owners, a family tied to the land in more ways than one. I finished the book this morning despite reading it over a full family Christmas. I could not put it down. 

I very much hope Deborah will come to one of our meetings to talk to us and I am looking forward to reading more of her books. I am so pleased that a chance meeting at a Christmas market led me to discover this local author and her excellent work.



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