Rummanah Aasi
  I read The Lighthouse by Alison Moore for my bookclub. While it was a short book, it took me a while to get through it mainly because there is virtually no plot, but filled with characters who ruminate and who are either trying to free themselves from their own self-made prisons or have resigned to it. The Lighthouse is one of those books that is listed with a capital L for literature. This is not a book that will please every reader, but I thought it was a really well written and has an interesting take on memory, consequences, and habits.

Description: 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 out 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. "The Lighthouse," Alison Moore's first novel, tells the tense, gripping story of a man trying to find himself, but becoming lost.

Review: The Lighthouse is a brief novel, short listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. This book is driven by a study of characters, particularly two characters that interact only at the beginning and end. Both live lonely, isolated, unhappy lives; both seem powerless to change anything. One of which we feel sorry for while the other why can't muster up any emotions other than frustration and dislike.
  I did enjoy how the book was written. The author took her time in constructing her story, which affected the pacing a bit and slowed it down incredibly since there is hardly any plot. There is a lot of symbolism that evoked the feeling of isolation and hopelessness. At times the book felt as if it was written in four simultaneous vignettes each focusing on the oblivious man named Futh- in present day, where he and his wife have separated and he is doing a walking loop in Germany; Futh as a child right as his mother has left; Futh as a young adult, newly married. Futh's story collides with Ester, the unsatisfied wife who is helping her husband Bernard run an inn. Futh and Ester are both trying to fill a voice in their lives. While Futh is desperate for human interaction, Ester comes across as a sex addict who has practically slept with every man who has every stayed at the inn. Futh and Ester aren't characters that you like, but I don't think you are suppose to. I think you are suppose to empathize with their current state, which I didn't really do.
  Despite the short snippets of Futh's and Ester's back stories, the book was never confusing, and the characters themselves seemed to be reliving the memories during the story, and this was very effective. In some ways this is a book of memory and how bad decisions impact the future, sometimes not even your own bad decisions. The Lighthouse is not a book that will cheer you up, but it might give you solace when you're having a really bad day.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and strong sexual content. Recommended for adults only.

If you like this book try: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
4 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Hmmm. The slow pacing of this one and the lack of plot makes me think it might not be for me, but I love what you said about it not cheering you up necessarily, but rather providing solace on a bad day. Lovely review Rummanah:)

  2. I just don't know, sometimes these weird books that win all kinds of awards leave me scratching my head wondering what the heck I missed. I am intrigued by the lack of plot would probably not work for me.

  3. Hm... not sure if it is for me, but I don't mind solace. Still, I like the sound of symbolism.

  4. I like that this one deals with memory but I don't think it's for me because of the lack of plot. It also sounds kind of depressing :(

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