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The Lighthouse Paperback – August 15, 2012

3.1 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A haunting and accomplished novel.--Katy Guest "The Independent on Sunday "

It is this accumulation of the quotidian, in prose as tight as Magnus Mills's, which lends Moore's book its standout nature, and brings the novel to its ambiguous, thrilling end.--Philip Womack "The Telegraph "

This is powerful writing likely to shine in your memory for a long time.--Emily Cleaver "LITRO Magazine "

No surprise that this quietly startling novel won column inches when it landed on the Man Booker Prize longlist. After all, it's a slender debut released by a tiny independent publisher. Don't mistake The Lighthouse for an underdog, though. For starters, it's far too assured ... Though sparely told, the novel's simple-seeming narrative has the density of far longer work. People and places are intricately evoked with a forensic feel for mood. It's title becomes a recurring motif, from the Morse code torch flashes of Futh's boyhood to the lighthouse-shaped silver perfume case that he carries in his pocket, history filling the void left by its missing vial of scent. Warnings are emitted, too - by Futh's anxious aunt and an intense man he meets on the ferry. It all stokes a sense of ominousness that makes the denouement not a bit less shocking.--Hephzibah Anderson "The Daily Mail "

This is an incredibly powerful, sad story. A beautiful, if austere book. And an amazingly talented writer. If it is a first novel, I guess it will not be the last because this is the kind of writing that is here to stay...--Josephine Huys "Amazon.co.uk "

The Lighthouse looks simple but isn't, refusing to unscramble what seems a bleak moral about the hazards of reproduction, in the widest sense. Small wonder that it stood up to the crash-testing of a prize jury's reading and rereading. One of the year's 12 best novels? I can believe it.--Anthony Cummins "The Observer "

In The Lighthouse Alison Moore has created an unsettling, seemingly becalmed but oddly sensual, and entirely excellent novel.--Alan Bowden "Words of Mercury "

Alison Moore's debut novel has all the assurance of a veteran, a strong contender for the prize, its sense of despair will either be its making or its undoing: 9/10.--Roz Davison "Don't Read That Read This "

Moore's writing has a superb sense of the weight of memory.--Kate Saunders "The Times "

Ultimately, what drew me into this bleak tale of sorrow and abandonment was the quality of the writing - so taut and economical it even looked different on the page somehow - and so effective in creating a mounting sense of menace and unease. It never flinches.--Isabel Costello "On the literary sofa "

Alison Moore's writing is exquisite, the prose simple and powerful, but it's the use of imagery which really marks it out as something special.--Sue Magee "The Bookbag "

The Lighthouse is a stunning book. Read it. Then read it again.--Zoe King "Amazon.co.uk "

The Lighthouse is a spare, slim novel that explores grief and loss, the patterns in the way we are hurt and hurt others, and the childlike helplessness we feel as we suffer rejection and abandonment. It explores the central question about leaving and being left: even when it feels inevitable, why does it hurt so much, and why is this particular kind of numbness so repellent to others? The brutal ending continues to shock after several re-readings.--Jenn Ashworth "The Guardian "

This is a book that might have vanished had it not been picked up by the Booker judges. It deserves to be read, and reread. No laughs, no levity, just a beautiful, sad, overripe tale that lingers in the mind.--Isabel Berwick "Financial Times "

What must have gone some way to earning The Lighthouse a place on the longlist, though, is the admirable simplicity of Moore's prose. Like Futh, its without flourishes, yet beneath its outward straightforwardness lies a hauntingly complex exploration of the recurring patterns that life inevitably follows, often as a consequence of one's past.--Francesca Angelini "The Sunday Times "

About the Author

Alison Moore was born in Manchester in 1971. Her stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies including Best British Short Stories 2011. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Manchester Fiction Prize, and for the Scott Prize for her first collection. She won first prize in the novella category of The New Writer Prose and Poetry Prizes. She lives near Nottingham with her husband Dan and son Arthur.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Salt Publishing; First Edition edition (August 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907773177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907773174
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The long- listed Booker novel The Lighthouse begins with this epigraph:

she became a tall lighthouse sending out kindly beams which some took for a welcome instead of warnings against the rocks - Muriel Spark , " The Curtain Blown by the Breeze"

And so begins a fascinating and somewhat challenging read, full of symbolism and ambiguity.

At first glance it appears to be a tale of the mundane details of the middle- aged , recently separated man named " Futh". We never learn if " Futh " is his first or last name, he is simply" Futh" and an easily forgettable man. Futh appears to be somewhat slow witted, having not learned to drive until he was middle aged, and someone who has great difficulty with a map and organizing his life. He is also socially awkward, having no one to serve as his best man at his own wedding except for his father.

The lighthouse exists for Futh's father as physical, technological interest; whereas for Futh, the lighthouse is a perfume container that many years ago belonged to Futh's mother. Futh's mother left her husband and Futh when Futh was but a 10 year old because she was " bored". He carries the silver lighthouse with him at all times, mainly a memory of his mother, but also somewhat of a talisman.

At beginning of the story, Futh is traveling to Germany to re- walk a holiday that he took with his father shortly after his mother left. During his "circular" walk he hopes to close some old wounds and try to come to terms with his life as a child , and his recent separation from his wife. Futh stays at inn named " Hellhaus" , which in English, " translates to" bright house" or " light house", but one can easily understand its other meaning. Hellhaus is owned and run by a rather dysfunctional couple, Bernard and Ester.
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Format: Paperback
Futh is traveling to Germany to go on a walking tour- 100 km in a week. It is a holiday from his otherwise miserable life. He is splitting up with his wife and is now duplicating a trip he took with his father when he was just a boy. He often thinks back to the mother that left both his father and him. In a sense, he is lost. Ester is mired in a neglectful marriage having affairs regularly with customers coming to her small hotel in Germany. Futh uses this hotel as his destination the first and last night of his trip. He is barely noticed by Ester as he goes on his way. It is not until his return that the devastating climax occurs.
Alison Moore superbly sets up the tension in this relatively brief novel. There is a certain pathos about all the characters. All appear to be damaged souls. The lighthouse is a metaphor used throughout the book and eventually becomes the touchstone for destruction. This is a beautifully written literary novel and a superb choice for the Booker shortlist.
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I could not put this book down. It was a fantastic page turner. All characters are well rounded and interesting. How many things are left unsaid is a master stroke of language. I highly recommend this book. I hope it wins the Man Booker Prize.
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Futh is a man in his 40s whose life was stunted early on when his mother abandoned him when he was still a child finds himself hiking in Germany. His marriage has collapsed. For him to plan such an excursion is remarkable given his total lack of experience. He didn't even learn how to drive until late in life. The one thing he clings to is his absorption with odors -- even to the unusual choice of career. Evocative smells form the basic theme of this very short novel -- the emotional thunderbolt that can be unleashed at a whiff of a familiar odor, which scientists have reported as inspiring deeper nostalgic impulses than any other sense. This may not find its way onto the Booker shortlist, but it is an admirable, original debut novel.(less)
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The disintegration of Futh's marriage at first seems like just another very sad statistic in matrimony, until we see that it's perhaps Futh's slightly simple nature, social clumsiness and 'round peg in a square hole' temperament which may have contributed. As the character is built, his clumsiness becomes very plausible and when combined with the constant awareness which haunts him of his own mother's leaving his father, I couldn't help feeling as weighted down as he must have been by a cruel fate - if not cruel genes.
On flashback to his ambles through Germany with his father, soon after the splitting of his parents, all he has to cling to of his mother through to his rather humdrum middle age is the model lighthouse she gave him as a child, a perfume container, which he hopes may one day give him a glimpse of better luck in his life.
For me it was the way life still cheated him, the way early embitterments in life can cast a permanent cloud over any future, that made me sympathise so deeply with Futh. However, the tone of the book is often so interminably loaded with cloud that the cumulative effect is almost depressing. Perhaps this is the success of the book but, to an extent, that success eluded me.
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This book is original, spare and wonderfully weird in a Hitchcockean sense. The lighthouse as an icon of loneliness and isolation is explored within a narrative of apparently aimless and circular tramping. Narrative is driven by evocations of strange odours; I will never hang camphor balls in my wardrobe again. This book is the dark knight on the Man Booker short list, 2012.
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