Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Lighthouse” as Want to Read:
The Lighthouse
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Lighthouse

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  4,594 ratings  ·  671 reviews
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 contemplates an earlier trip to Germany and the things he has done in his life, he does not foresee the potentially devastating ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published August 15th 2012 by Salt Publishing
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Lighthouse, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Lighthouse

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,594 ratings  ·  671 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Lighthouse
Sean Barrs
This is a story about emptiness; it is a story about how people long for what they do not have, and look for it everywhere and in everyone: it’s a story about empty people and empty lives. And in this Moore provides an excellent case study in the characterisation of Futh, a man who embodies an extreme sense of loneliness.

It’s also about futility and the fruitless nature of such longing. Instead of living in the now and making the most of what we do have the human mind always seeks such impossib
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: brits, mttbr-2013
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
AJ Dehany
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
This is not a novel. It is a joke. I don't feel though that the long shaggy build up equals the punch line (view spoiler) or vice versa.

My heart, an unreasonable organ, abandoning its regular duties, tells me that the author has the qualities of a short story writer. Here though they are stretched out and the details felt superfluous at times. Did I care, did I know -became do I know, do I care? Nor does it really feel like a novella.

The seco
Jim Coughenour
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bleakfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: contemporary
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,
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
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
Doug H
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this quite a lot in the opening chapters. The foreboding atmosphere and oddball protagonist immediately drew me in. Somehow, I grew less impressed as the story progressed. I think I was expecting it to go somewhere more interesting than it did and maybe I was expecting more character development. Also, something about the author's writing style bothered me - especially all of the overt and repetitive symbolism. So many lighthouses! So many venus flytraps!

Not bad, especially for a first
Jeanette (Again)
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. ...more
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars.
This short, grim book is all about morher-son relationship portrayed via different viewpoints.
Central figure is Futh, whose mother leaves him and his dad in his childhood, and who carries her silver lighthouse shaped perfume case with him always, hoping to meet her some day, and having a failed marriage , himself.
There is Water, the inn keeper who ends up marrying her fiance's flamboyant brother and is estranged from her initially friendly mother in law, whom her husband is still in aw
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a strange little novel, and it gives rise to intriguingly polarized responses. I can see why, even though I liked it myself.

Certainly, there’s very little here for anyone looking for characters with whom they can identify, which accounts for some of the bad reviews this novel has received from readers. Neither of the main characters/ focalizers is appealing in the least, though I didn’t see that as a weakness in the novel. Futh is a hapless, emotionally constipated Englishman, recovering
Diane S ☔
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
An indie novel shortlisted for the Booker is quite a feat. I have mixed feelings about this novel, some of the details were wonderful, some I felt were not necessary and some were just boring. There was very little humor and very little dialogue, yet the structure was original and I liked how the book was presented. Scents, good and bad tie all the threads of the story together and is present in both separate parts of the story. There is an unexpected ending, but I never really warmed up to not ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I purchased The Lighthouse just by chance from the Oxfam Bookshop on Byres Road on my boyfriend’s birthday. I remember seeing a few copies about when it was published, but have never read any reviews of it; nor did I know anyone in real life who had read it. I started it out of intrigue on the same day (and read a large portion of it in the dim light of a Walkabout bar in central Glasgow whilst trying to drown out the sounds of very loud football supporters during an Arsenal game), and was immed ...more
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed The Lighthouse and read it in three days. That said it was a strange book with its 'impotent' main character who seems incapable of doing anything well and lurches from mild embarrassment to mild embarrassment and never learns from his errors.

It's simply and well written and worth a look.
For my complete review of "The Lighthouse" visit:

"The Lighthouse" is a debut novel with literary merit. It won the McKitterick Prize in 2013 and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, among others.

Despite that, I found that it was a bleak, forlorn, and desolate story. Futh's character was well depicted, he just wasn't interesting. Futh was a sad, unremarkable man with not many redeeming characteristics.

Ester, though interesting, was also a very sad woman
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Oct 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
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
Neil Mach
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Lighthouse

I enjoyed reading the Lighthouse and I started it after I was lucky enough to meet the novelist at a conference of writers I attended earlier this year. Alison is perhaps best known for her short stories, so this is a thin volume [183 pages] and is full of small yet powerful vignettes.

The main character, Futh, is not a particularly loving or winning guy, so this book feels oddly glum.

His miserable existence is gradually explored and the story of his unpleasant, fatalistic beginnin
Angela Young
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
9/24/2012: I had to go read reviews of this novel as soon as I finished to help me understand and appreciate it. Reviews are helpful in this way, of course, supplying ready-made explanations and critiques of a work, while helping to contextualize it. Which is why I try not to do it--it seems only fair to try to figure out a work myself before going to the opinions of others, you know?

But with TL, I was a bit stumped--and the reviews didn't even help! The plot is clear, the story is chronologica
Jake Goretzki
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Lush Library: The Lighthouse - SPOILERS 1 48 Sep 08, 2012 03:28PM  
BookerMarks: Discussion forum for The Lighthouse 6 71 Sep 06, 2012 02:27PM  
BookerMarks: Know Your Booker!: The Lighthouse 1 15 Sep 04, 2012 02:20PM  
BookerMarks: Second BookerMarks Review of The Lighthouse 1 14 Aug 28, 2012 12:08PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Reading in the Dark
  • Jamrach's Menagerie
  • The Forgotten Waltz
  • Burnt Island
  • Early One Morning
  • Swimming Home
  • In a Strange Room
  • How To Be a Kosovan Bride
  • In Sight of Stars
  • A Snow Garden and Other Stories
  • The Ballad of Peckham Rye
  • The Case of the Love Commandos (Vish Puri, #4)
  • The Snow Spider (Snow Spider Trilogy, #1)
  • On Truth and Untruth: Selected Writings
  • Existentialism and Human Emotions
  • Alcestis
  • Some Prefer Nettles
  • An Affair with a Notorious Heiress (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, #4)
See similar books…
Born in Manchester in 1971, Alison Moore lives next but one to a sheep field in a village on the Leicestershire-Nottinghamshire border, with her husband Dan and son Arthur.

She is a member of Nottingham Writers’ Studio and an honorary lecturer in the School of English at Nottingham University.

In 2012 her novel The Lighthouse, the unsettling tale of a middle-aged man who embarks on a contemplative

News & Interviews

Readers have a lot to look forward to this year! Just feast your eyes upon all of these debut books to check out and emerging authors to...
86 likes · 31 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“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.” 6 likes
“It is like being wrenched soul first through time.” 3 likes
More quotes…