A Masterpiece – The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

Posted by Justine Solomons on 19 November 2012, in Recommendations

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Review by Justine Solomons

This excellent book deserves its place on this year's Booker Prize List. Moore’s is exactly the kind of writing I love: the editing is superb, with clean, sparse language that engages all the senses. And Moore is not afraid to show the darker side of humanity.

Fuch has just split up from his wife, and he goes alone to Germany on a walking holiday. The first hotel he stays at is run by Bernard and his wife Ester. Fuch carries a silver lighthouse perfume case which once housed an expensive scent. He'd crushed the perfume bottle in his hand just before his mother left him and his father when he was a little boy. Ester owns the same perfume, the scent bottle intact, but hers is housed in a wooden lighthouse case. This exquisite novel tells the story and the pain of these two lighthouse keepers.

Not since Anne Michaels' 'Fugitive Pieces' have I read a novel with such poetic sensibilities. The Lighthouse is a master class in writing, and more importantly editing, as Moore demonstrates the effectiveness of stripping back language to show a fictive reality.

There's been lots of talk about the ending of this book. I've re-read it and I'm still not a hundred percent sure what happened, but the book is enigmatic throughout and I respect it even more for it. Just as Haneke did with the ending of his film 'Hidden', Moore credits her readers with the intelligence to handle ambiguity. Within the casing of this book, be it silver or wooden, is the scent of uneasiness and menace. Stunning, stunning book—thoroughly recommended.


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