American readers will enjoy Moore’s (He Wants) assured debut novel, previously published in the U.K. and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Futh, a man only ever referred to by his surname, has just broken up with his wife and has traveled to Germany, his father’s homeland, for a walking holiday. He has brought with him a little silver lighthouse—a special perfume container that belonged to his mother, who abandoned Futh when he was young. The narrative moves between the present and the past and between Futh and Ester, the woman who runs the first hotel he stays at in Germany and whose story has some odd parallels with Futh’s own. Moore’s deceptively simple style perfectly suits this tale of memory, sadness, and self-doubt. The details and the voice combine to create an unnerving, creepy story of a rather pitiful man. Futh is neurotic, socially awkward, and would be easy to mock—yet Moore makes him a very sympathetic character, with the humiliations he endures at the hands of those he loves inspiring sympathy in the reader. An intriguing twist toward the end brings the two narratives together in this satisfying, mysterious novel. (Aug.)
PRAISE FOR ALISON MOORE
“[The Lighthouse's] taut sentences vibrate with tension ... Moore constructs a precise and perfectly paced psychological drama in which all our senses are on constant alert ... This elegant novel leaves a haunting scent of camphor in the air.” Susan Wyndham, New York Times Book Review
“As the parallel stories unpack these two [protagonists'] respective pasts, talismans of memory seem to uncannily connect them: Venus flytraps, the smell of a certain perfume, replica lighthouses that both keep as protective charms. Ms. Moore has written a short, bleak, atmospheric book full of such strange symbols that, in the murk of Futh’s confusion, suddenly come aglow with meaning.” Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
“Starkly written and suspenseful, this novel ... is a slow burn of jealousy, anger, and anxiety that reads like a drama peeked at through a crack in a door. Moore’s prose is sharp and often sparse, while her characters are loathsome and sympathetic by turns. Complex and thrilling, this meditation on the past is a gripping story of betrayal and its lingering effects.” Kirkus Reviews
“Mooe’s deceptively simple style perfectly suits this tale of memory, sadness, and self-doubt ... [A] satisfying, mysterious novel.” Publishers Weekly
“ The Lighthouse is a powerfully poetic and moving study of loss, grief, and abandonment...” New York Journal of Books
“Moore's triumph is that she manages to thread the needle, creating a haunting, elegiac book that is very hard to put down. Readers will most likely finish The Lighthouse quickly; its images will remain with them long after.” Shelf-Awareness
“Melancholy and haunting.” Margaret Drabble
“Disquieting, deceptive, crafted with a sly and measured expertise, Alison Moore’s story could certainly deliver a masterclass in slow-burn storytelling.” The Independent
“ The Lighthouse is a page turner ... we’re immersed in a chilly, heart-wrenching story that seems to say that, for all our obsessions with old wounds and childhood hurts, the thing that damages us most of all is the thing of which we are unaware.” The Guardian
“A unique, compelling, deftly crafted novel that reveals author Alison Moore's genuine flair for creating memorable characters and an unpredictable and consistently engaging storyline, The Lighthouse is unreservedly recommended” Wisconsin Bookwatch
“Moore’s writing has a superb sense of the weight of memory.” Kate Saunders, The Times
Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and winner of the McKitterick Prize, this deftly told work from British author Moore arrives here well recommended. Moore, who writes with a certain mirrored stillness, relates the journey of the hapless Futh to Germany following the end of his marriage to Angela. The hotel where he stays is called Hellhaus, which means lighthouse, and tiny lighthouses holding perfume vials figure throughout the narrative as both talisman and memory prod. Having traveled from England by ferry, echoing a troubled trip he took with his father as a child, Futh spends his time on long walks recalling his mother's abandonment of the family when he was young; his father's subsequent abusiveness; his bolder childhood friend Kenny, who also disappears; and his troubled-from-the-beginning relationship with Angela. Meanwhile, he comes up against the hotel's proprietors, hard-drinking, slightly brazen Ester, and her husband, Bernard, whose immediate dislike of Futh sums up Futh's state in life. VERDICT This persuasive portrait of a man who has always missed out and who's missing out still will move many readers.
An Englishman in the throes of an existential crisis travels to Germany in hopes of sorting out his life, but he finds himself inadvertently in the middle of a volatile marriage of two hotel owners.After his wife unexpectedly leaves him, Futh decides to travel to his father's home village in Germany to hike and clear his head. On his first night in country, he stays at a small hotel owned by Ester and Bernard, a couple trapped in a cycle of deceit, abuse, and jealousy. Bernard mistakes Ester's taking care of Futh for signs of infidelity, and he develops a grudge before Futh leaves in the morning to continue his trip. As the days pass, Futh's memories of his traumatic boyhood and fraught relationship with his father resurface like little windows into his troubled mind and habits, while Ester and Bernard circle one another in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. But when Futh returns to the hotel, he loses a beloved memento of his mother's and, in his attempts to get it back, is pulled deeper into the twisted marriage between Bernard and Ester. Starkly written and suspenseful, this novel—shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize and published in the U.S. for the first time—is a slow burn of jealousy, anger, and anxiety that reads like a drama peeked at through a crack in a door. Moore's (Death and the Seaside, 2016, etc.) prose is sharp and often sparse, while her characters are loathsome and sympathetic by turns. Complex and thrilling, this meditation on the past is a gripping story of betrayal and its lingering effects.