The Lighthouse
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The Lighthouse

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  2,395 ratings  ·  424 reviews
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 Shortlisted for New Writer of the Year in the 2012 Specsavers National Book Awards 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 co...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published August 15th 2012 by Salt Publishing (first published January 1st 2012)
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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelThe Garden of Evening Mists by Twan Eng TanThe Lighthouse by Alison MooreNarcopolis by Jeet Thayil
2012 Man Booker Prize Longlist
4th out of 12 books — 146 voters
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceThe Chemistry of Tears by Peter CareyDeath Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
Man Booker Prize Eligible 2012
17th out of 152 books — 258 voters

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Community Reviews

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The Lighthouse is one of those novels which grows on you as you read it and you only realise how good a novel it is a little after you have finished it.
It is written from the point of view of 2 characters. Both have boring, mundane lives. The man,Futh,is someone to whom things happen. He is not a person who could ever be described as proactive. The woman, Ester,is a sad and disappointed person with an inappropriate libido. Futh and Ester virtually never meet or speak to one another but the whole...more
Some books are a rich substantial meal. This one hardly qualifies as a snack. To push the analogy a bit further: a bowl of clear soup that smells unusual and turns up something disconcerting and unidentifiable. Transparent, but still off-putting.

Surely no-one in their right mind would stay at a hotel called Hellhaus. I mean, hell house. Bit Stephen King isn't it? And then this guy on a walking holiday and so you call him Futh, which sounds a lot like foot. Hopeless and helpless, he is. In his mi...more
AJ Dehany
The twin central narratives of Alison Moore's Booker Prize nominated novel "The Lighthouse" take place over a week, following Futh and Ester, whose stories cross, diverge and finally converge. Futh is always referred to without title, and we never learn his forename. He is eminently forgettable: after a week Ester "cannot picture him at all" and the other stranger Futh meets at the start of the book, Carl, after a week "finds that he cannot really visualise him" or remember his name. I myself ha...more
Jim Coughenour
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Oakes
Now here’s a book I really, really like, maybe the best on the Booker Prize longlist that I’ve read so far this year. I’m not even going to wait until the end of my discussion on this novel to say that I HIGHLY recommend it -- it is so quiet and understated yet delivers a huge wallop that I hope lands it a place on the shortlist. Of course, tomorrow will bring the news of which books go through and which don’t, but if you’re planning to read only the shortlist and this one doesn’t make it, I’d a...more
This is one of the most carefully constructed novels I have read in a while. The author spent a lot of time planning this book with pre-chosen symbolism. The major theme in this book is scent... in fact, the main character is a chemist who works in synthetic smell/scratch and sniff technology. The smells are interwoven in the book and link all of the characters intricately and if you follow the weave of the scents you see the greater fabric of the story. I think this technique is what impressed...more
I was so looking forward to this. So disappointed.
Is there a genre for books where nothing happens and you just don't care about any of the characters? What is it called? If I knew, I could make sure to avoid books like this in future because they are an utter waste of my time to read.

I'd really like to know what a writer's motivation is to write something like this. Moore seems to take no pleasure in words, nor her characters, nor in plot. This results in an overwhelming sense of detachment,...more
I reached for a random book on Friday ... as we were leaving the house .... I had expected a book to arrive that day but it did not ... and so I reached up to my 'to be read' book shelf and grabbed a book I bought in London in November. A book I had intended to read for a while but did not know just when. Turns out it was now.

We drove 2,5 hours into the deep woods. The deep Woods of Norway. To a cabin we refer to as Elsewhere.

Where we coccoon. We eat, play, laugh, and mostly we turn pages. In ha...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Horrid, horrid, horrid. I could not stand this. I gave it 62 pages, which is more than generous for a book I'm hating as much as I hated this one. It's a puzzlement to me how this got longlisted for the Booker prize. Some people's tastes are unfathomable.
This is the other Booker-nominated book about a man who embarks on a trek, and ruminates about his life and his disappointments. The similarities with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry stop there though. Here, the story is about the lighthouse, and those it warns. Or beckons. The tale is prefaced with a quote from Muriel Spark's short story "The Curtain Blown by the Breeze': "she became a tall lighthouse sending out kindly beams which some took for welcome instead of warnings against the roc...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Another one from the 2012 Booker shortlist....

The Lighthouse is a brief novel, following two characters that interact only at the beginning and end. Both live lonely, isolated, unhappy lives; both seem powerless to change anything.

I did enjoy how the book was written. It felt like at least four simultaneous stories were being told - Futh in present day, where he and his wife have separated and he is doing a walking loop in Germany; Futh as a child right as his mother has left; Futh as a young ad...more
This book weaves a spell. I read it in one evening because I couldn't put it down. It follows a man named Futh, who is taking a trip to Germany, and a woman named Ester, who works at a hotel where Futh stays. Both Futh and Ester spend a lot of time thinking about the past, and the story crisscrosses between their memories and the present.

The writing is both evocative and sparse -- the scenes are chilling in their simplicity. It's the kind of ominous story that made me want to yell out, "Don't go...more
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore is a novel of smells. Perfumes figure strongly, as does camphor, with formaldehyde and octyl acetate making cameo appearances. The lighthouse of the title is a model, a decorative, presentation container that once held a phial of perfume. It was a present for a woman married to a chemist called Futh. The chemist and the woman had a son (also called Futh because it is a surname), who also took up chemistry. Futh the father was German and bored his wife, especially w...more
Angela Young
It would be a wonderful thing if this first novel won the Man Booker Prize. It seems to depict one small world (lonely man goes away after break-up of marriage to reflect) but welded to his apparently small world are the memories of other small worlds that make up a much larger world that neither he nor the reader can forget. The characters are so vividly drawn and the spare, clear writing expands far beyond its 183 pages to create a series of encounters that puzzle and fascinate, and above all...more
she was in Best British Short Stories 2011 with me, a great story, and now this debut novel is on the Booker longlist...
for some reason the library has lent me a large print copy, very weird to read..
..excellent: a strange, listless feel to it as the characters all seem to drift into marriages and affairs etc. The main protagonist, Futh, is characterised as easy to forget: people do not remember what he looks like. He goes on holiday after his divorce, thinking back on his childhood and youth an...more
Reviews of this book are all over the place. I can see why people would give up on it. There really isn’t a likeable character in the whole book. That, actually, I didn’t have a problem with. Unlikeable characters can be far more interesting than likeable ones just as bad guys (as long as they have some depth) can be quite compelling. We like to think of ourselves as good and likeable and so why wouldn’t we find our opposites fascinating? Maybe it says something about me that I found myself empa...more
Jakey Gee
I was very impressed by this. It’s a great portrait of loneliness, inconsequentiality…and memory. It’s rewardingly creepy too.

The novel is especially strong on the way memory works – smells and imagery (violets, lighthouses, camphor) are picked up by different characters in the arbitrary way they are in life. In the absence of much to live for today, characters cleave to memories from decades before. This is utterly believable.

Futh is a great, damaged antihero – reminding me very much of anoth...more
Sep 29, 2012 Elaine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
What a dark little creepy crawly of a book. In the best way possible. Deftly written, heavily atmospheric and foreboding, this gothic miniature creates all sorts of discomfort, pity and awkwardness on its way to an end that I can only assume was black comedy. Look, Moore says, these people are so very very damaged, it is inevitable that they are going to do bad things, either through malice or haplessness. But she doesn't pity her characters exactly, there's a bit more wryness than that, and fra...more
Kevin Young
Alison Moore's plaintive prose builds a gently snowballing atmosphere of foreboding throughout this melancholy tale of a recently separated man on a walking holiday in Germany. She introduces Futh, as a luckless and lonely character, who appears happy with his isolation. Expanding on the apparent acceptance of his downtrodden life,
with brief flashbacks to his Mothers departure in his youth, his unfaithful wife, and their shared boredom with married life. The intertwining story of a hoteliers wif...more
Very well written. However, as I got to around the halfway mark, I had an epiphany: I hated virtually every single character in the book. I especially hated the two main characters, Futh and Ester. I finished the book without noticing a single characteristic of either that was even slightly appealing. I found myself wondering if Futh had some form of Asperger's: his ability to understand others seemed to be pretty much nil, but then, he had no understanding of himself, either.

I finished this bo...more
Ben Dutton
Alison Moore is a debut novelist, whose first novel, The Lighthouse, has been receiving rave reviews – and a lot of press attention for its small publisher, Salt – following its long-listing in the 2012 Man Booker Prize. The book, winningly presented, comes adorned with praise from the likes of Margaret Drabble and Jenn Ashworth. It is, then, difficult to come to this work without expecting rather a lot of it.

A middle-aged man, recently separated, has come to Germany to walk part of the Rhine. F...more
An admirable first novel. The progressive unveiling of Futh's (he is such a non-entity that he never is given a first name) memories and obsessions works well in tandem with the web of the moment that will finally destroy him. Unlike the uplifting and much lighter "Unlikely Pilgramage of Harold Fry" there is a sense of rising doom to Futh's circular walking holiday and circular paring back of layers of memory.

While I can appreciate the use of symbolic elements that touch all of the characters -...more
Cornelius Browne
As a one-time avid cinemagoer, now living a life of celluloid starvation (half an evening's drive to the nearest big screen, not that I can drive), this novel was a dark little treat. Alison Moore's debut is cinematic not in the sense we usually mean nowadays, when so many thrillers in particular are little more than unformatted screenplays stuck between illustrated covers - The Lighthouse doesn't read like a script, it reads like a film shot and edited and now being projected onto a screen with...more
The Lighthouse brought to us by indie publishers Salt publishing made it on to the Booker long list even before it was officially published. I just liked the sound of it and ordered it the day it was released. At a little over 180 pages it is a fairly short novel, and yet it does pack quite a punch. I have a feeling that is a novel which inspires the kind of images that stay with the reader long after the book has been laid aside. It may not be my favourite read of this year, but it is one I’ll...more
Kathleen Jones
It's good to see a small press like Salt up there with the juggernauts, and good to see a debut author in the Booker Prize shortlists. I'm a great fan of Salt, which publishes some quality writing - short fiction and poetry - so I pounced on this novel straight away. It's short, under 200 pages, so makes a change from the bloated tomes around at the moment.

The central character of The Lighthouse, Futh, whose grandparents were German, is setting out on a walking holiday in Germany after his wife...more
This slim volume tells the story of Futh, a forty-something man, newly divorced, who decides to take a walking holiday in Germany before returning to England to start life as a single man. We first meet him on the ferry crossing; slight, middle-aged, with thinning hair and an oddly forgettable presence. Futh's journey is largely uneventful; he gives a lift to a man he meets on the ferry then continues alone, having his suitcase sent on ahead as he walks a scenic circuit between the six hotels he...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
I’m guessing that I’m not the first person, nor will I be the last, to point out that at first glance of the descriptions of the twelve long listed titles for this year’s Man Booker Prize, Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse and Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry probably share the most in common with one another, being that they both revolve around men who are intent on travelling by foot while they reminisce about key events from their past. However I’m happy to report that the sim...more
I'm thinking that I didn’t really 'get' ‘The Lighthouse’ as I’m only giving it 3 stars, though I feel guilty saying this as it's great when an indie publisher gets shortlisted for prestigious prizes (this is the only novel from the 2012 Man Booker shortlist I’ve read so far). I can admire the structure of the novel, but it was at times a tedious read though I forced myself on because I liked the off-key narrative enough to keep going, and there are some moments, gorgeous in their simplicity. Sti...more
Oh dear. This little Booker Prize shortlisted novel really is quite disappointing. Let's start with the positives though (and it's a biggy). The writing is brilliant. Short, sharp and clear. Moore really is accomplished. Unfortunately, with this particular story, the style leaves the reader slightly removed and shines a light (no pun intended) on just how dull the main characters are.

I found myself uninterested and even irritated by the main characters, Futh, who is on a walking holiday in Germa...more
This book drew me in from page one, and I had trouble putting it down. That was interesting because it's not a fast-paced or dramatic book at all, until the end. But it has a haunting, ominous quality that kept me turning the pages. I really loved the writing, which is spare and really evokes the beauty and tragedy of life. A good read for a gloomy fall day.
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“And Futh, looking at the lighthouse, wondered how this could happen--how there could be this constant warning of danger, the taking of all these precautions, and yet still there was all this wreckage.” 3 likes
“His heart feels like the raw meat it is.” 3 likes
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