Saturday, 22 November 2014
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore
On the outer deck of a North Sea ferry stands Futh, a middle-aged and newly separated man, on his way to Germany for a restorative walking holiday. After an inexplicably hostile encounter with a hotel landlord, Futh sets off along the Rhine. As he contemplates an earlier trip to Germany and the things he has done in his life, he does not foresee the potentially devastating consequences of things not done.
Sometimes when I read a book that has been shortlisted for a major literary prize I find it a little bit off putting and I half expect myself to be disappointed. But I really did enjoy 'The Lighthouse'.
It's not the most exciting book I've ever read and I wouldn't exactly call it a thrill a minute but the beauty lies elsewhere. Rather than being plot heavy it is character driven and cleverly crafted. It pulled me in from the beginning and I found that the pages were literally turning themselves. This is a story about memories and about how bad memories cling to the surface of happy memories like a snow drop sticking to a cold window. It is also a story that gives the reader time to breathe and time to fill in the blanks. I always say that 50% of a book is written by the person that is reading it. Alison Moore makes use of this with a clever use of subtle, yet powerful ambiguity.
I think it's the ambiguity that I like the most about this short novel. It's the story untold rather than the story told that makes it work so well. Whether it is deserving of a Man Booker Prize shortlisting, I'll let you decide.