Published: August 15, 2012
Publisher: Salt Publishing
Synopsis: (Goodreads): The Lighthouse begins on a North Sea ferry, on whose blustery outer deck stands Futh, a middle-aged, recently separated man heading to Germany for a restorative walking holiday. Spending his first night in Hellhaus at a small, family-run hotel, he finds the landlady hospitable but is troubled by an encounter with an inexplicably hostile barman.
In the morning, Futh puts the episode behind him and sets out on his week-long circular walk along the Rhine. As he travels, he contemplates his childhood; a complicated friendship with the son of a lonely neighbour; his parents’ broken marriage and his own. But the story he keeps coming back to, the person and the event affecting all others, is his mother and her abandonment of him as a boy, which left him with a void to fill, a substitute to find. He recalls his first trip to Germany with his newly single father. He is mindful of something he neglected to do there, an omission which threatens to have devastating repercussions for him this time around.
At the end of the week, Futh, sunburnt and blistered, comes to the end of his circular walk, returning to what he sees as the sanctuary of the Hellhaus hotel, unaware of the events which have been unfolding there in his absence.
Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed this book overall. There were some parts of it that were puzzling or I did not get, but overall it was a good read. The two main characters, Ester and Futh, lead their lives in a similar fashion, but on a different level. They are two loners whose lives are not going anywhere and reflecting on that note does not ease their pain. On Futh’s week-long walking holiday, we are taken back in time as he remembers his childhood, his relationships with friends and the situation with his marriage. Throughout the book, one issues hovers over the rest, and that is the abandonment of his mother when he was a child. Every time that he does something, sees or wants something, it all links to her and he is always comparing other women to her. No matter what though, the void is not filled and Futh remains empty inside.
Alison Moore’s writing is distinct and speaks to the reader. We can feel Futh’s emptiness and Ester’s loneliness. The mistakes that were made in the past are still haunting these two individuals with no end in sight. Every few chapters we are taken either to Ester’s story or Futh’s and we can see what they are going through. This is one of those books that need to be read more than once to really understand its power and significance. Great read!
Rating: 4/5 Stars