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The Beacon

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  390 ratings  ·  68 reviews
What happens to a family when one of the brothers publishes his “misery memoir?” Is his litany of childhood torment a complete invention? Or was there really a cupboard under the stairs?

The farmhouse was called The Beacon and they had been born and reared there, May, Colin, Frank and Berenice, but only May had been left for the last 27 years . . .

May had been the clever da
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published May 11th 2009 by Chatto & Windus (first published October 2nd 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 613)
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Marlee Pinsker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bernadette Robinson
9/10 or 4.5 stars.

This is a short novella but it sure does pack a punch in my opinion. It is a very thought provoking little book. Susan Hill paints with her words a picture of family life in The Beacon, but for one member of the Prime family his childhood appears to be at odds to everyone else's.

The Beacon is a bleak read and conveys well the family life of the Prime family. Isn't it odd how certain outcomes are arrived at. Poor May had her chance of a dfferent life but returned to the family h
Her writing is so stark and uncompromising. I wanted very much to find this book beautiful, to find the way it was written poetic, because it put so many images into my head. But it wasn't, and I put the poetry there myself, although Susan Hill left me all the right places to put it.

This time last year, I had returned home from a year studying, intellectually and emotionally exhausted and scared of what was going to happen next. If I had read this book then I don't know what it would have done t
Purtroppo non ho trascritto nessuna citazione da questa novella, anche se ci sarebbero state molte occasioni (ma quando leggo lontana dal pc, di solito sono così concentrata che non mi scomodo nemmeno a tenere vicini gli amati segnapagina…)

The Beacon racconta la storia di una famiglia: quattro fratelli e sorelle (Colin, Frank, May, Berenice) crescono in una fattoria insieme ai genitori, John e Bertha. Colin e Berenice si sposano e rimangono in zona. Frank, da sempre solitario e misterioso, si tr
Hmmm... a fellow member, Michael, recommended the book to me. I picked it up today and for the first time in the longest while, finished a book in one evening.

I just could not put it down. It was an easy read with very simple prose yet would stir much emotions. There are a few lines which I really love in the book... "Life changed. Life stayed the same." depicts the scene so fittingly after the passing of John Prime, leaving his eldest child, May and his wife, Bertha. "He woke up wondering abou
Suzanne Cole
ike most readers I was familiar with Susan Hill's work as a crime and ghost story writer and there I was intrigued by the Beacon mainly due to the contrast between this book and her previous works. I read the whole story in one evening,partly because the entire book is only 150 pages, but also because I found the story so unexpectedly absorbing. It is structured in a similar fashion to Hill's short ghost novel 'The Man In The Picture', Jumping between one event occurring in the present and vario ...more
Kris McCracken
The Beacon is an odd little novel that explores concepts like family, ambition, truth (all that jazz). Riffing off the question of what happens to those implicated by the rise of 'misery memoirs' ('grief porn'?).

At the centre of the book is the strangely stilted May Prime, sister of Frank, who has written a bestseller called about his cruel childhood at a remote North Country farm through the 1950s. In it he accuses his late father of terrible cruelty and his family of collusion.

Although Frank's
Mary Gilligan-Nolan
I picked this up at my local library accidently, and wasn't even quite sure if I would read it. But I do like Susan Hill, so I gave it a go. I read it in a couple of hours, as it is not a very long book. It was a delight to read. The story is simple enough, about a family, Colin, May, Frank and Berenice Prime and their parents, who live in a remote farmhouse in the North Country and their lives as children and adults being raised on a farm. The story mainly centers around May, the spinster siste ...more
Review from my blog.
Every time I write anything about Susan Hill I worry that I'm repeating myself. She's just a brilliant writer. Reading her books is like watching an artist create a picture brush stroke by brush stroke, sentence by sentence. She writes with great economy, achieving with ten words what some writers struggle to convey with fifty. The Beacon is about how isolated in themselves people can be, shaped by their memories, perceptions and expectations. Or at least that is how it seeme
A small gem, this story portrays the life of the spinster daughter of a farming family set on a remote English hillside. The novella is so well written that you can almost hear the wind battering the old farmhouse and the reader feels the protagonist’s mixed emotions when following the death of her parents a family secret in revealed…
I love Susan Hill and this is probably a bit harsh could push to 2.5. Still irks me to pay £7.99 for such a slim book. Anyway. The book. As in A Kind Man she writes about death. She does it well but just not a cheerful read. The whole book just felt so sad. A story about a family but not a close family. Troubled relationships culminating in Frank causing serious upset by writing about his childhood. The impact of this on all of them including him is huge. Not top of my list!
Mary Miller
Susan Hill is perhaps best known for the play and book "The Woman in Black" (recently made into a film) and the Simon Serrailer mystery series. I have read several books by her and have found her to be easily read and thought-provoking at the same time.
"The Beacon", at 154 pages, is too long for a novella and not long enough to satisfy as a novel. But true to form, it is serious and thought-provoking. "The Beacon" tells the story of the Prime family who live on a remote farm in the north of Engl
A woman who has cared for her aged mother is also trapped by her own insecurities. Can she break free after her mother dies? How much has brother Frank damaged the family? The now derelict farm and its lack of livestock seem to symbolise May's broken personality.
When we find out the cause of the damage done to the family we do understand why it continues to haunt May and her siblings.
However, this is a book which asks more questions than it gives answers.
Claire McAlpine
Recently discovered Susan Hill as an author and this is the second book of hers I've read, not too dissimilar to 'A Kind Man' in the way it is written, interesting study on character and the dynamics of family and the effect of things left unsaid. This story also an interesting perspective on using family members or real people as fodder in fiction. Looking forward to reading more of her.
It was a good enough read. The ending was not to my liking. It didn't go anywhere. The book had no clue. The characters were not developing into something, going somewhere. The mystery of the book Frank wrote remained a mystery. I wouldn't recommend reading it, there are other books waiting that will be much more rewarding to read. I will have forgotten about this one pretty soon.
Linda K
Puzzling story about a family with 4 children with one of them committing a terrible tragedy of untruth against the others. Story moves back and forth from early times to older and is compelling in the way it takes your mind in various thought patterns. Outcome is surprising and left me confused. Author writes with skill and picks the reader up on her train of thought for a good ride.
Carey Combe
I loved the premise of this book and she has a beautiful style and would have given it a four, but I felt really let down by the ending which didn’t resolve anything - ok the argument being that thats what happens in life but this is a book written by an omnipresent author and I was disappointed not to get any answers.
Karen Rossiter
This is the first book I have read by Susan Hill and it was an enjoyable short story. She describes the setting, family and emotions very well but I am still left a little confused by the ending, despite many google searches to find out the answer!
A short but absolutely brilliant book. A subtle and atmospheric story which leaves many questions unanswered but that only makes it all the more thought-provoking. An excellent choice for a book club.
For such a short book, it took surprisingly long for it to get to the point. Maybe I'm missing something, but I just felt like I was waiting ages for it to be revealed what Frank actually did. I liked the writing, but the
ending left me unsatisfied, and felt like I was supposed to feel sympathy for the characters but I just didn't.

It's a shame, because I read Susan Hill's Dolly a while ago and remember liking it. I've concluded that I should stick to her creepier, ghost-story books, and be happy
Takes about 2/3 of the book to get going, but when it does it's a lovely and sad depiction of wasted lives.
Saved by some beautiful prose, otherwise I'd have only given this one star
Ian Laird
I discovered Susan Hill through her entertaining report - Howard’s End is on the Landing - on a year of reading books lying around her eighteenth century farmhouse.

In coming up with a final list of 40 books - she demonstrated her taste, judgement and erudition as well as her friendships, acquaintanceships and serial brushings with the literati of her generation and earlier, through her work as writer, interviewer, publisher and broadcaster. Susan Hill introduced me to authors I might have otherw
The Prime family lived in the hillside farm called The Beacon, the children grew up, married and moved within the neighbourhood, apart from May who lived with her parents, and Frank who moved away to London after always being in the background, watching, taking everything in but never joining in. The book opens with the death of May's mother; the family are informed and all are agreed that they won't contact Frank to let him know. The inference is that he's done something bad in the recent past ...more
I picked this up at a book swap; I haven't ever read any Susan Hill before, although I do remember once hearing her speak at a literary festival. It's so short it's almost a novella, but like Alice Munro she can convey whole lives in a few words.

(view spoiler)
An intriguing little book. Susan Hill is such a versatile writer and her work never fails to impress me. I found the descriptions of death and its aftermath particularly moving here, and was certainly left wondering about what had really happened in that family. Very tightly written, not a single superfluous word or sentence. Worth a few hours of your time.
A short novel and a fairly quick read, this novel centres on a family who live in an isolated farmhouse in the North of England. As the four children grow up and leave home, only one is left to tend the widowed mother. Then their world is shattered when one of the sons writes a memoir claiming that he was abused and neglected by his parents and siblings as a child, none of which is true. This has a devastating effect on the siblings as friends and neighbours now regard them with suspicion. It is ...more
Eek! Susan Hill sure knows how to surprise the living daylights out of you.

Regular family until one throws a spanner in the works and causes a bit of an upset that will affect them for the rest of their lives. No-one or so you think until the end!

Susan Hill never fails to make me go 'Brilliant!'

As always the writing is excellent but the ending left me confused and dissatisfied. I think perhaps that that is even what she intended as I am now as dissatisfied as her characters. What narrow lives she portrays.
A long short story explores the blend of truth, memory, and the need or challenge for neither to be the same. Likable, quick read, and I recommend it.
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Susan Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1942. Her hometown was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and some short stories especially "Cockles and Mussels".

She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factor
More about Susan Hill...
The Woman in Black The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler, #1) The Pure in Heart (Simon Serrailler, #2) The Small Hand: A Ghost Story The Risk of Darkness (Simon Serrailler, #3)

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