What I'm Reading
A haunting story of life and death, beginnings and endings, and a unique landscape.
Beachy Head is at the tip of England and has the unfortunate reputation of being one of the most popular suicide spots in the world. The cliffs are sheer, white and dramatically high, so it's understandable. The wind is sharp and brings tears to your eyes. This is the setting for this novel and if you know the area the atmosphere is already set. Add to that an old lighthouse...
There is a great sense of place in this book. Morton captures the landscape, the danger of catching your foot in a rabbit hole or slipping on a bit of gravel and ending your days by falling off the edge. Terrifying.
The story has a man who has bought a disused lighthouse (he is known as 'the Keeper') with the intention of opening it as a bed and breakfast. Sadness over the loss of his artist wife has prevented him from doing this. There is also another man who fears that his missing wife has taken her own life. Between these two men are other characters who go over the edge or attempt to, the Guardians who try to prevent the jumpers, the desolate pub and the tourists.
The plot is to find out what happened to the two wives and how the husbands cope. But the appeal of this book is that it is evocative and emotionally gripping, gothic, realistically gritty and magical at the same time. There is the constant fear of danger contrasted with the nostalgia and comfort of a cosy lighthouse. A wonderful enigmatic novel. Highly recommended.
Published by SPCK on 15 October 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.