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.
Entirely melancholy in tone, this book feels longer than its 182 pages as it is entirely literary. The main protagonist, Futh, is an aimless fluttering character, lost in this world and unable to cope with change and loss whose fall is portended from almost the first page. This book is driven by this character study of a man who is...I mean, you felt for him-he was so vulnerable. He was sad, socially awkward but he was also too socially awkward (childhood trauma and a lifetime of hiding from his problems) and he wasn't particularly likeable. I ended up having more feelings about the main woman, Ester, in the book who I also didn't particularly like (her motivations were entirely too opaque for my liking) as the mutual emotional abuse in that marriage was quite painful (and echoed Futh's traumatic childhood). This lack of caring would not have been a bad thing but it made the novel lost its spark once it was obvious what the ending was going to be. Since I felt nothing about the characters and had no hope of knowing why they were doing what they were doing, it was only the prose that kept me going.
May have been the point? So I'm on the fence about the story itself but the style is lovely. I really enjoyed the metaphors Moore sprinkled about in there and the way she crafts her sentences in such an economical yet lyrical way is skilled. The tight structure of the writing shows exquisite crafting and the symbolism ranges from the obvious to the subtle. Even the style is light despite the dark and sad story.