Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Lighthouse

Author: Alison Moore

Published: August 2012

What They Say: The Lighthouse begins on a North Sea ferry, on whose blustery outer deck stands Futh, a middle-aged, recently separated man heading to Germany for a restorative walking holiday.

Spending his first night in Hellhaus at a small, family-run hotel, he finds the landlady hospitable but is troubled by an encounter with an inexplicably hostile barman.

In the morning, Futh puts the episode behind him and sets out on his week-long circular walk along the Rhine. As he travels, he contemplates his childhood; a complicated friendship with the son of a lonely neighbour; his parents’ broken marriage and his own. But the story he keeps coming back to, the person and the event affecting all others, is his mother and her abandonment of him as a boy, which left him with a void to fill, a substitute to find.

What Elaine Says: Oh dear.  This little Booker Prize shortlisted novel really is quite disappointing.  Let's start with the positives though (and it's a biggy).  The writing is brilliant.  Short, sharp and clear.  Moore really is accomplished.  Unfortunately, with this particular story, the style leaves the reader slightly removed and shines a light (no pun intended) on just how dull the main characters are.

I found myself uninterested and even irritated by the main characters, Futh, who is on a walking holiday in Germany and Ester, the hotel owner seeking solace with anyone that passes through her hotel.

Ultimately this is a case of (lack of) substance over style.  As a writer, Moore is one to watch.  As a storyteller? Well, we'll see.
Elaine's Rating: 5/10


"In the night, there will be a storm.  It will be brief, if a little violent, and hardly anyone will realise it occurred, although they might hear it raging, thundering, in their dreams.  
 In the morning, by the time people are up and about, the sun will be out again, and the soaked pavements will be dry, and there will be very little evidence of damage."

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