I don’t like to be beside the seaside

10 09 2016

Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore

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With an abandoned degree behind her and a thirtieth birthday approaching, amateur writer Bonnie Falls moves out of her parents’ home into a nearby flat. Her landlady, Sylvia Slythe, takes an interest in Bonnie, encouraging her to finish one of her stories, in which a young woman moves to the seaside, where she comes under strange influences. As summer approaches, Sylvia suggests to Bonnie that, as neither of them has anyone else to go on holiday with, they should go away together – to the seaside, perhaps.

Brilliantly written and beautifully paced this is an outstanding and compelling novel. It’s subtle, clever and deeply disturbing. Highly recommended.

4.5 stars

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Anything but Light

17 11 2012

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

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.

This Booker short-listed debut from a former staff member at Lakeside Arts at the University of Nottingham, is a slim, well written and powerful novel. Following the route of the recently separated Futh as he heads for a week’s walking in Germany the novel takes us back to his childhood, his parents’ separation and his own desperate childhood. However, the couple who run his chosen hotel also have problems. Very good indeed.








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