Book Review: 2012 Long Listed: Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse (Review #2)

The_LighthouseRating: 3.5
The Lighthouse
A Novel by Alison Moore
2012 / 192 Pages

The Setup: 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. (From the hardcover edition)


Book Review: 2012 Long Listed: Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of the Evening Mists

Rating: 4.0
The Gard
en of Evening Mists
A Novel by Tan Twan Eng
2012/350 pages

The day the Booker long list was released, I immediately started looking up the titles and reading the synopsis of each book in order to pick out my 3 books for the BookerMarks project.  I knew I would chose Bringing Up the Bodies as I had really enjoyed Wolf Hall.  My surprise in the list was The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng.  Not only did the title grab my attention, but the story seemed so intriguing.

Yung Lin Toah, a former prisoner of a Japanese work camp during World War II, retires to Malaya, her home for a short period several years after escaping the work camp.  We discover early on that Yung Lin was the only survivor of the Japanese work camp, where she and her sister day dreamed of creating their own Japanese gardens as a way to escape the torture they were forced to bear.  In memory of her sister, Yung Lin embarks to find a way to have a Japanese garden created for her.  Conveniently located near the tea plantation of a family friend, sits the only Japanese garden in Malaya, Yugiri. Interestingly Yugiri was designed and is maintained by Aritomo, a former gardener to the Emperor of Japan.


Book Review: 2011 Winner: Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending

The_Sense_Of_An_EndingRating: 5
The Sense of an Ending
A Novella by Julian Barnes
2011 / 150 Pages

The Setup: The story of a man coming to terms with the mutable past, Julian Barnes’s new novel is laced with his trademark precision, dexterity and insight. It is the work of one of the world’s most distinguished writers.

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they navigated the girl drought of gawky adolescence together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they swore to stay friends forever. Until Adrian’s life took a turn into tragedy, and all of them, especially Tony, moved on and did their best to forget.

Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a marriage, a calm divorce. He gets along nicely, he thinks, with his one child, a daughter, and even with his ex-wife. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove. The unexpected bequest conveyed by that letter leads Tony on a dogged search through a past suddenly turned murky. And how do you carry on, contentedly, when events conspire to upset all your vaunted truths? (from the hardcover edition)