By Alison Moore
Salt Publishing, 2012
In this first novel by Alison, we find a chap, Futh, lost...in his life, his future and in his marriage. He is misguided in all three aspects. The seemingly simple task of taking himself on a walking holiday to get his life and head in order takes on a more sinister slant as he takes a two week holiday through Germany, in contemporary times.
But this holiday will not turn out as it starts. He is, for example, not comfortable with the actions of the lady of the house in the first night’s accommodation. His distrust of her will serve him well, but his naivety will cause him to miss signs that will prove costly. Nor does he understand the actions and conduct of her husband...at either end of the story. The second encounter will have dramatic repercussions. Not only is Futh led along winding trails, so are we. He, and we, will meet a character who will leave us wondering at his worth; as a new friend and a character. While it is not quite ‘blink or you’ll miss him’ as his place in the story is of value, it is easy to dismiss him as the story goes on.
The tale is told with a steady speed, in a manner that expects the reader to have some idea of the geography, without going to deeply into the landscape descriptions that can sometimes add to a tale, and at others, simply serve to bulk out the text. We are able to keep pace with the plot, developments and the thought process of the main protagonist. The reasons for Futh going to Germany are made clear, and the memories that make up parts of the text serve well to give him a personality. We are then, I think, asked to make a decision about him; do we like him, feel sorry for him or just want to give him a big shake and tell him to pull himself together? Throughout the story, I guess all three options apply.
I do like a good ‘oooh’ moment in my reading matter, and I certainly got one here. But it was so understated I read that part twice, just to make sure I had read it properly. I must stress here though, that that wasn’t a criticism, far from it. That made the book worthy of its place on the 2012 shortlist. So, if you like you book to creep up behind you and swipe you across the back of the head when you are not expecting it, then this book is for you. You will be told the relevance of the lighthouse; and no, it is not a place – he will never see one during his entire holiday...or will he?
BookerBookBloke verdict 7/10