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The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

It’s a small book in stature with an image of a lighthouse engulfing the cover which is fitting for the novel’s content. According to Moore, the birth of this novel was borne out of a vision of a man sitting alone in a kitchen which wasn’t his own and this man was Futh, the novel’s protagonist.

What can one say about Futh other than the fact that he is a highly unlikable character. Of course, it is ok to not like a character; this doesn’t mean the whole novel is going to fall apart at the wayside. He is tedious, ambivalent, whiney, wet and in simple terms- annoying. The novel starts with Futh wafting away from the currents of his life on a Ferry bound for Germany for a walking holiday in order to recover from a failed marriage; we learn quickly that this novel is essentially a patchwork of failed marriages. Whilst on the ferry, he recalls the holidays he took with his father after his mother left them and gosh, his memories really are steeped in a rather depressing light. 

The novel is plagued by Futh’s memories of his mother who left him & his father when he was a boy and his constant search for a surrogate mother. His wife, who not surprisingly enough shares his mother’s name, has to keep reminding him that she is not his mother. It’s not difficult to see why the marriage breaks up, but it’s also hard to understand why his wife married him when it’s obvious that she’s always annoyed by him and has no real love for him. 

Futh is submissive and a fantasist who wishes everything to be done for him, even whilst out walking, he desires strangers to take him in; to feed him and give him water or once more, ‘mother’ him. He is essentially an underdeveloped human being. In fact, this short novel works as a psychological character study on a man whose mother’s absence except for a small keepsake- the lighthouse perfume he carts around. He would make for a psychologist’s dream patient.

 The characters in this novel, including a dysfunctional couple; Esther and her husband who own a hotel in Germany are all interchangeable. They all seem to have a love for the Venus fly trap plant too, this all too easy interchangeability can come across as lazy on the author’s behalf at times, yet one does get hooked by the little dramas in these people’s odd lives. Futh, is no doubt, a car crash waiting to happen as he walks around in his bubble of naivety and persistently unbreakable child-like state. The story is bursting to the rim with infidelity; unhappy wives, boring husbands and a totem which causes more trouble than good, yet these all make for a good read. Moore’s writing can appear very calculated and tight at times- possibly befitting for Futh’s character, it will be interesting to see what style she adopts in her next piece.

The Lighthouse is published by Salt Publishing £8.99

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