22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Spare, Powerful, Haunting,
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This review is from: The Lighthouse (Kindle Edition)This haunting novel begins on a ferry on a North Sea crossing where we meet our main character, Futh, a middle-aged man, who is separated from his wife and is going to Germany for a walking holiday. While standing on the deck in the cold night air, Futh's thoughts turn to his mother who left him and his father when Futh was a boy and later, in his cabin, he thinks about his wife and of the end of their marriage and: "His heart feels like the raw meat it is. It feels like something peeled and bleeding. It feels the way it felt when his mother left."
When Futh arrives in Holland he drives to Hellhaus, near Koblenz, in Germany, where he has booked a room in a small hotel, also named Hellhaus (which means 'bright house' or 'lighthouse' in German) where he plans to spend his first and last night. In alternating chapters with Futh's story, we read about Ester, the owner of the hotel, who is married to Bernard, but who sleeps with any of the passing guests who take her fancy.
This is a very short book so I shall be careful not to reveal too much information and spoil the story for prospective readers, however I will just say that as Futh continues his walking holiday, his thoughts continually return to the abandonment of him by his mother, his difficult life with his father after his mother left and the disintegration of his own marriage. His mind also ponders on his childhood friendship with his next door neighbour, Kenny, his anxious aunt, Freda, and the recent unusual encounter he had with Carl, a man he met on the ferry. The lighthouse is a reoccurring device, from the lighthouse mentioned on a picnic in Cornwall when his mother was still with him and his father, the 'Morse Code' torchlight flashes sent back and forth between a young Futh and his friend, Kenny, the name of the hotel where he stays in Germany, and the silver lighthouse trinket that he keeps as a memento of his mother.
Evocative and beautifully written in a spare and simple prose, this is a haunting, sombre and somewhat unsettling story that pulls you in quietly, yet powerfully; I downloaded this onto my Kindle early this morning and read it from the beginning to the rather surprising end in one sitting. We know it is on the longlist for the Booker Prize; it deserves to make it onto the shortlist and I, for one, very much hope it does.