Welcome to a Guest writer for The Lighthouse Book Review (by Alison Moore) by Steve Morris. Steve owns a small creative studio called Seedr Creative and is a keen blogger (mainly about Marketing and Design) and avid devourer of culture. He’s @mozbloke on twitter. Hope you like is review… definitely one to add to my reading list!
‘I totally get that’ was Alison Moore’s honest answer when asked to respond to an observation that her Man Booker-nominated short novel was ‘difficult to explain’. On the surface ‘The Lighthouse ‘ is a tale of a man called Futh observing the remnants of his crumbling marriage at a distance whilst on a ‘cathartic’ walking holiday in Germany. Now I know what you’re thinking…but wait, that synopsis paints a rather prosaic picture, and it betrays the complexity of this captivating story.
Sure, in some ways it has ‘difficult’ written all over it but that just makes its success all the more noteworthy.
And don’t be put off by its stark, almost detached style because it is quite riveting. That lean and impassive prose is perfect for the unfolding story of regret, obsession and well, loneliness.
Whilst in Germany Futh appears to stumble through a sequence of awkward and embarrassing situations that lend his character an almost comedic quality, but as you’ve guessed this story is far from a comedy.
Moore manages to skilfully weave Futh’s story into another seam about a German couple running a bed and breakfast playing out destructive marital dramas nightly in front of their guests.
Though it’s hard to like Futh it’s actually not hard to care about him. His detached awkwardness appears to stem from his mother’s decision to leave him with an unsympathetic and bitter father. The bad luck that dogs him on his holiday seems to mirror episodes from his unhappy past.
It’s a novel swathed in anxiety and growing unease, so when Futh’s walk takes him full circle back to the B&B of his first night in Germany you get a foreboding sense that no good will come of this. The conclusion is gripping, startling and thought-provoking.
The Lighthouse is hardly ‘entertaining’ but equally it is not difficult to read. If you’re after a warm-hearted book where everything is nicely resolved then it won’t be for you, but if you like books that tackle the intricacies of ‘the human condition’ like Ian McEwan’s ‘On Chesil Beach’, Sebastian Faulk’s ‘Engleby’, Julian Barnes’ ‘The Sense of an Ending’ then it’s likely you will spend a rewarding week with Alison Moore’s debut.
Personally I think it’s a unique and rather beautiful book about the mundanity of unhappiness, the fragility of relationships, the cruelty of chance and much more. It’s not hard to see why it made the short list for the Man Booker prize and it’ll be fascinating to see what Alison Moore does next.
I hope you liked Steve’s The Lighthouse book review. Would love you to give him some comment love!