When I heard this on Radio 4's Woman's Hour Drama I couldn't wait for each daily episode. However their treatment of this small, perfect story gave a different slant to the inherent ambiguity of the book. 'The Cupboard Under the Stairs' was given more importance, maybe for sensationalism, than in the book. The mood created by their nervy music and presentation of Frank and May's lives side by side over emphasised their parts whereas the actual book has much more to offer.
So it is truly really worth still reading The Beacon even if you have already listened to the broadcast. Susan Hill has created a taut, absorbing, tidy novella (eat your heart out Ian McEwan, for `On Chesil Beach', which for me, failed to deliver). `The Beacon' is a perfect execution of the genre.
Susan Hill has, tucked neatly into her elegant writing, the explanation you need which is only hinted at in that radio drama. In offering the clues needed to understand the story she fleshes out the characters more satisfactorily. Catching you up in her powers and transporting you to The Beacon farmhouse with ease and experience, not a word jars. Quiet country days slip by and the suffocating world of living forever in an area where everyone knows your business, or thinks they do, is exquisitely pictured. Family tensions and accommodations, the release from binding ties, all keep you reading straight through to the end.
This is the kind of book that leaves you thinking about it long after and longing to discuss it, a very clever piece of work indeed.