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Another interesting one to review – shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this has been quite hot property locally as Alison is from Nottingham. I’ve been fortunate to hear her speak at a couple of writing events.

It’s very much a mood piece – melancholy and thoughtful, about the random and tragic concidences and connections between lost and lonely people. Futh, separated from his wife, takes a walking holiday in Germany to reflect on his life so far. Staying at the Hellehaus (Lighthouse) hotel, he is barely aware of landlady Ester, who subsumes her own sorrow in a series of casual sexual encounters with guests. Both locked into their own problems, drifting through their own lives like ghosts, neither foresees the tragic consequences that await them.

It’s a very introspective, psychological story, immensely sad yet understated. Moore’s prose is very deft and she gets inside both her characters’ psyches confidently. The ending made me wince, although so much is left unsaid, and she carries it off with subtlety and poignancy. I can see why this was a shortlisted novel, and can certainly foresee it making its way onto A-level reading lists. However it’s an odd one in that I can’t say I enjoyed it as such – it moved me, and will stay with me, but it left me with a sense of melancholy rather than satisfaction. I think she’s got the length of the novel exactly right – it’s long enough to fully express her characters and ideas, but not too long that they outstay their welcome. It’s definitely worth reading and I’ll look out for her work in the future, but I do feel the need for a rollicking adventure for my next read… Rating:***

Salt Publishing, 2012, ISBN 9781907773174

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