The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson – Audiobook Review

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, narrated by Kristine Ryan and Gerianne Raphael
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Harper, both imprints of HarperCollins


A whirlwind romance takes sensible Eve from her life in London doing French translations of boring, mundane things such as contracts to a lovely if somewhat decrepit old house in the South of France with a loving but secretive man named Dom. As summer fades, so too does the perfect live Eve imagined that the two of them were living together. She begins to question what happened in Dom’s first marriage that has made him the way he is today, and to feel a chill in the house around her that leads her to wonder if their lovely Genevriers is haunted.

As Eve’s story unfolds, so too does a story of her house’s recent past, centered around Benedicte, a young girl who once lived in Genevriers with her troubled family.

Thoughts on the story:

Initially the story of The Lantern unfolds slowly, it is well past the halfway mark before the reader has any idea what is meant by the title or how the stories of the two women will intersect. Luckily, the slower plot has Lawrenson’s lovely writing to fall back on. Aside from seducing the reader with beautiful language, Lawrenson is taking the first half of the book to fully develop Eve and Benedicte’s characters, as well as the secondary characters around them, giving the reader a stake in their lives when the tension begins to build in the second half the novel. And build it does. By the time I reached the halfway mark, I hesitated to leave the story, so drawn in was I; Lawrenson does a wonderful job building both investment and interest. And although I won’t spoil the ending, I will say that I found the wrap-up and explanations particularly satisfying.

Thoughts on the audio production:

As tends to be the case with books produced by Harper Audio, the audio production – and particularly the narration – was wonderfully done in The Lantern. Both Ryan and Raphael are talented narrators, but I was particularly impressed by Ryan. The character she was portraying, Eve, was a French-educated American women who at the beginning of the novel had been living in London for years, but who moved early in the book to the south of France. Certainly a narrator could have decided to work with only one or two of these linguistic heritages, but Ryan had me wondering if she had the exact same background as her character. At the base of her speech was a standard American accent, but there was a definite British inflection, with a French accent that rose and fell, depending on what exactly she was saying. It was absolutely perfectly done, more than just believable, she completely lived into her character.


Although there is somewhat of a slow start, sticking with The Lantern is a decision that pays off completely. I am confident that Lawrenson’s lovely book would stand up quite well in print, but Ryan and Raphael’s masterful narration adds an extra degree of wonder that is well-worth experiencing.

Buy this book from:
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Indiebound: Print*

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31 comments to The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson – Audiobook Review

  • I totally agree with you. It was a very slow start for me but then I had to force myself to put it down.

  • So maybe I have reason to be SLOWLY reading this book on my ipad… I want to like it (love the concept) but I have been reading this book for over two weeks and am just 70 pages in.

    I’m hoping to get in some reading this weekend. I actually thought maybe I should listen rather than read this one.

    THanks for your honest review.

    • I can definitely see having a hard time staying with it in print initially. Switching to audio might really help, otherwise I would advise you to keep going if you can.

  • For being an audiobook newbie, I’ve accumulated quite a collection. Next week, I’ll be commuting again, so I hope to get a lot more listening done. The Lantern sounds like one of those that I would have to do on audio, to help me get past the slow parts. That’s how I made it through A Discovery of Witches, and I ended up really enjoying that book.

  • I was just debating getting this with my Audible credit last night, but wasn’t sure. Now, I see I should have picked it! It’ll be my pick next month, for sure! I had planned on posting an audiobook review, but had to do my NerdsHeartYA post instead. I will post it next week though.

  • I am looking forward to reading this at some point. I keep meaning to listen to more audios, but it never seems to happen, so I will have to stick with paper…

  • It seems like I can tolerate slow starts to a story on audio. Kate Morton’s books, for example, really make you work for your rewards, but is very worth it. I’ll see if I can get my hands on this one.

  • This is on my list, but I don’t have as much patience with audiobooks as I do with print, so with a slow start I think I’ll stick with a print version.

    • That’s fair. For me, I only have one audio going at a time, so I’ll just keep going back to it during those times I listen to audio. Slow starts in print may suffer from benign neglect because I often have multiple books going in print.

  • I’ve got this one on my TBR list, but I think it might be a really good fit for me in audio. I’m going to have to look for it.

  • Zee

    It is wonderful when the narrators get the voice of the characters just right!

  • This sounds really good, but I have a feeling I’d do better with a print copy since it starts out slow.

  • I love hearing about a good narrator! Is this the one that has been described as having a somewhat Gothic feel to it? I could be getting it confused, but I think I’ll eventually get around to reading this one. Usually I can plow through a slow start if the middle and end are engrossing!

  • I’m glad this is a good audio production. I already have a copy and will be listening to it soon. Lately I’ve been doing more listening than actual reading.

  • Thank you very much indeed for this lovely, perceptive review, Jen. I’m so pleased you enjoyed both the book and the recording. I just had to let you know that your reaction to Kristine Ryan’s voice was exactly the same as mine! It’s a tricky, unusual accent to make work, but she is quite amazing. When I first heard a sample online, I was knocked sideways by just how brilliantly she captured the tone that was on my head when I wrote the book. Just perfect.

    If it’s OK by you, I’d like to put a link to your review in my next blog post tomorrow (Saturday).

    • Absolutely! And thank you for creating such a lovely book!

    • PS. Since I wrote this comment, I’ve been sent the whole recording and had a chance to appreciate Gerianne Raphael’s part too (hers wasn’t on the sample I first heard). Hers is another superb performance, with a gorgeous, lilting but never overpowering French accent. It really is a winning combination!

      • Absolutely! Gerianne gives an incredibly strong performance as well, both women were wonderful. Kristine just blew me away, though, with her adept use of that difficult accent.

  • For some reason I just couldn’t buy into this one. I’m not sure if it was because it was a “gothic” story set in modern times or what the problem was for me. I do agree that the author wrote it beautifully and I was able to feel as if I was there at time.

  • There is something about this cover that really draws me in. I’m going to have to read this one.

  • Although I’m going to read this one in print instead of audio, I am really looking forward to it. Fingers crossed for a read-a-long mentioned on Twitter. :)

  • William Almes

    Great news Kristine Ryan fans. She will be narrating a book called Dark Predator which is out this Tuesday Sept 6th. I am giddy with excitement ! I can’t wait hear what she does with this book. I will let you know as soon as I get it how it is. And you are correct, she is a American actress. I wonder if she multilingual or maybe she lived abroad ? Maybe the author knows her.