I read two books last week and this 2012 Man Booker short-listed novel was one of them. The main character, Futh, is a man who is contained and restrained, and Moore’s writerly hand was so light it was as if she left him alone to wend his way through the narrative. I am still haunted – it seems like the right word, though this is not a ghost story – by this character, by his travels and his travails, his meanderings. I do love meandering in novels, and where other readers might become impatient and yearn for a more compelling stride through the pages, I enjoy being wafted along. And when I say meandering, I don’t mean wishy-washy or weak: Moore never loses her control in the telling of this story.
I feared for Futh and I still do, as the ending is brilliantly left open, though the sense of building doom and a final scene on the ferry gives heavy hints of what is likely to have happened. I do admire an author who can resist making an ending ‘tidy’ and overt and I delighted in being part of Futh’s journey, and being allowed to bring my imagination to the telling of it.
A gorgeous read, and perfect length.
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore. Salt Publishing.