Alison Moore was short-listed for the Mann Booker prize for this unusual little book, which looks at the mayhem caused when certain events and people collide.
Futh’s life has been an unremitting series of disappointments, beginning with the departure of his mother when he was a boy. Still haunted by his mother’s perfume, he works as an industrial chemist recreating scents, and carries the long-empty perfume bottle in his pocket. It is shaped like a lighthouse, a potent symbol, but does it mean welcome or danger?
Ester runs a guesthouse in Germany with her husband, Bernard. She’s so starved of affection she lures willing males into empty bedrooms while Bernard seethingly completes his crossword puzzles. Ester also has a lighthouse perfume bottle she is attached to, and a tendency to filch baubles from guestrooms. When Futh books into the hotel for a walking holiday all three characters seem to be on a collision course for disaster.
The Lighthouse is a carefully crafted book, full of echoes and resonances and, in particular, smells. Moore unashamedly throws her characters in at the deep end, and whether they sink or swim is for the reader to discover. The book gives us a lot to think about, and its story is utterly compelling, if somewhat nerve-wracking. Fortunately its detached, ironic tone also makes it extremely readable.
Posted by JAM
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The Lighthouse by Alison Moore, 2012