Winner of the 2013 McKitterick Prize
Shortlisted for the 2013 East Midlands Book Award
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012
Shortlisted for New Writer of the Year in the 2012 Specsavers National Book Awards
Observer Book of the Year 2012
The Lighthouse begins on a North Sea ferry, on whose blustery outer deck stands Futh, a middle-aged, recently separated man heading to Germany for a restorative walking holiday.
Spending his first night in Hellhaus at a small, family-run hotel, he finds the landlady hospitable but is troubled by an encounter with an inexplicably hostile barman.
In the morning, Futh puts the episode behind him and sets out on his week-long circular walk along the Rhine. As he travels, he contemplates his childhood; a complicated friendship with the son of a lonely neighbour; his parents’ broken marriage and his own. But the story he keeps coming back to, the person and the event affecting all others, is his mother and her abandonment of him as a boy, which left him with a void to fill, a substitute to find.
He recalls his first trip to Germany with his newly single father. He is mindful of something he neglected to do there, an omission which threatens to have devastating repercussions for him this time around.
At the end of the week, Futh, sunburnt and blistered, comes to the end of his circular walk, returning to what he sees as the sanctuary of the Hellhaus hotel, unaware of the events which have been unfolding there in his absence.
‘Melancholy and haunting. The sense of loneliness and discomfort and rejection is compelling, the low key prose carefully handled. It’s a serious novel with a distinctive and unsettling atmosphere.’ —Margaret Drabble
‘A haunting and accomplished novel.’ —Katy Guest, The Independent on Sunday
‘It is this accumulation of the quotidian, in prose as tight as Magnus Mills’s, which lends Moore’s book its standout nature, and brings the novel to its ambiguous, thrilling end.’ —Philip Womack, The Telegraph
‘No surprise that this quietly startling novel won column inches when it landed on the Man Booker Prize longlist. After all, it’s a slender debut released by a tiny independent publisher. Don’t mistake The Lighthouse for an underdog, though. For starters, it’s far too assured ... Though sparely told, the novel’s simple-seeming narrative has the density of far longer work. People and places are intricately evoked with a forensic feel for mood. It’s title becomes a recurring motif, from the Morse code torch flashes of Futh’s boyhood to the lighthouse-shaped silver perfume case that he carries in his pocket, history filling the void left by its missing vial of scent. Warnings are emitted, too – by Futh’s anxious aunt and an intense man he meets on the ferry. It all stokes a sense of ominousness that makes the denouement not a bit less shocking.’ —Hephzibah Anderson, The Daily Mail
‘This is powerful writing likely to shine in your memory for a long time.’ —Emily Cleaver, LITRO Magazine
‘Alison Moore's writing is exquisite, the prose simple and powerful, but it's the use of imagery which really marks it out as something special.’ —Sue Magee, The Bookbag
‘In The Lighthouse Alison Moore has created an unsettling, seemingly becalmed but oddly sensual, and entirely excellent novel.’ —Alan Bowden, Words of Mercury
‘Alison Moore's debut novel has all the assurance of a veteran, a strong contender for the prize, its sense of despair will either be its making or its undoing: 9/10.’ —Roz Davison, Don't Read That Read This
‘Ultimately, what drew me into this bleak tale of sorrow and abandonment was the quality of the writing – so taut and economical it even looked different on the page somehow – and so effective in creating a mounting sense of menace and unease. It never flinches.’ —Isabel Costello, On the literary sofa
‘Moore’s writing has a superb sense of the weight of memory.’ —Kate Saunders, The Times
‘The Lighthouse is a spare, slim novel that explores grief and loss, the patterns in the way we are hurt and hurt others, and the childlike helplessness we feel as we suffer rejection and abandonment. It explores the central question about leaving and being left: even when it feels inevitable, why does it hurt so much, and why is this particular kind of numbness so repellent to others? The brutal ending continues to shock after several re-readings.’ —Jenn Ashworth, The Guardian
‘The Lighthouse looks simple but isn't, refusing to unscramble what seems a bleak moral about the hazards of reproduction, in the widest sense. Small wonder that it stood up to the crash-testing of a prize jury's reading and rereading. One of the year's 12 best novels? I can believe it.’ —Anthony Cummins, The Observer
‘This is a book that might have vanished had it not been picked up by the Booker judges. It deserves to be read, and reread. No laughs, no levity, just a beautiful, sad, overripe tale that lingers in the mind.’ —Isabel Berwick, Financial Times
‘What must have gone some way to earning The Lighthouse a place on the longlist, though, is the admirable simplicity of Moore’s prose. Like Futh, its without flourishes, yet beneath its outward straightforwardness lies a hauntingly complex exploration of the recurring patterns that life inevitably follows, often as a consequence of one’s past.’ —Francesca Angelini, The Sunday Times
‘The Lighthouse, Alison Moore’s melancholic debut, would eventually have found admiring readers through the great network of word of mouth. That it has been shortlisted, deservedly, for the Man Booker Prize will quicken the process. This is a beautiful short novel sustained by muted urgency, nuance and the exactness with which Moore conveys the paralysing levels of depression that Futh battles. In order to deal with the present he attempts to make sense of his past, which refuses to fade away. His thoughts throb with humiliating episodes from his boyhood, cut short when his bored, dissatisfied mother left, leaving his father to voice his anger at his only audience, the bewildered boy.’ —Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
‘A debut novel from a high-achieving independent publisher, The Lighthouse has surprised some observers with its place on the Man Booker Prize shortlist. Disquieting, deceptive, crafted with a sly and measured expertise, Alison Moore's story could certainly deliver a masterclass in slow-burn storytelling to those splashier literary celebs who take more pains over a pyrotechnic paragraph than a watertight plot.’ —Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
‘The originality, structure and neat prose of this first novel justify its shortlisting, but it doesn't do much to lift the soul.’ —Kate Green, Country Life
‘The menacing atmosphere Moore builds up is masterful, in that Futh only partly perceives it, through his own preoccupations. A pair of silky knickers he finds under his bed only makes him think squeamishly that the dust on them is ‘strangers’ dead skin’. Rarely is dullness so dangerous.’ —Laura Marsh, Literary Review
‘Highly recommended.’ —Harriet Harman