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The Beacon by Susan Hill
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The Beacon (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Susan Hill

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127None94,447 (3.72)43
Member:Carolinejyoung
Title:The Beacon
Authors:Susan Hill
Info:Chatto & Windus (2009), Hardcover, 160 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
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The Beacon by Susan Hill (2008)

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This story had sinister undertones from the start but I was totally thrown by the last sentence which made me re-think my assumptions. ( )
  Carolinejyoung | Dec 25, 2012 |
It is a very interesting family story. It’s starting with the death of their mother. One of the daughters is living with her at the old family place where a lot of ancestors had lived. The family’s secrets and their lives are told as jumping throughout all the times but always coming back to the present. During this travel I became familiar with all the characters. As in every family there is also in this one a ‘black sheep’ and when the other siblings tried to avoid him mother’s last will is keeping them together and on the other hand separating them for ever.
I can strongly recommend this book. ( )
  Ameise1 | Jul 23, 2012 |
Susan Hill's novels are characterised by a lack of action, and rely heavily on suspense, the brooding sense of fear or anticipation of fear and thread. It has been suggested that the novels she wrote before her marriage in 1975 are better than subsequent work, with the exception of The Woman in Black, published in 1983.

It seems that in the early novels, the fear was stronger, while in the later novels the suspense is weaker or more subtle. When The Woman in Black was published in 1983, no work had been published for ten years, and the next novel, Air and Angels appeared in 1991.

I had hoped that The Beacon would recapture some of the strength of the early work, but was disappointed, again. The story is very simple, and the contrast between the entirely likeable character of May and the unlikeable character Frank is not particularly interesting. It happens. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Apr 29, 2012 |
This is the story of the Prime family: father and mother, John and Bertha, and their four children, Colin, May, Frank and Berenice. Grown up May and Frank look back separately over their lives at The Beacon, the farm and farmhouse where they grew up, and where May still lives.

This is a good novella and quite typical of Susan Hill's brooding style. It kept me interested in the story and the ending was very intriguing as it left me wondering about certain parts of the story. I think these novellas are what Susan Hill really excels at, and in The Beacon she manages to create a lot of atmosphere in relatively few pages. A good, quick read. ( )
  nicx27 | Mar 31, 2011 |
Following up the recent series novel by Susan Hill that I just read with a novella by her from 2008, The Beacon is a stand-alone short novel about an ordinary English farming family in mid-20th-Century moving toward the 21st, two parents and four children, growing up and living ordinary lives, some more content and some less so. But one of the siblings, Frank the second son, makes a mark in London as a journalist and, after marrying a wealthy widow who (conveniently) dies early, writes a best-selling tell-all about his horrible life of abuse on the family farm as a child. Only it's not true, not one word of it as far as the abuse is concerned, but he uses his family's name and his siblings' names and describes the real farmhouse and the real life within it, so that everybody who knows the family believes they have done these evil, terrible things to a child, which never happened. Why did he do this? How do the siblings react? This is the meat of the story, told primarily through the voice of sibling May, the one daughter who remained at home - there's always one in these tales - to care for the parents, and keep the family home together, with little or no appreciation until it's all too late. This is a heartbreaking short novel, but at the same time a frustrating one because, for me anyway, the reasons for Frank's inventions are never made clear; in the end, I just felt sad. ( )
  thefirstalicat | May 24, 2010 |
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May Prime had been with her mother all afternoon, sitting in the cane chair a few feet away from the bed, but suddenly at seven o'clock she had jumped and run out of the house and into the yard and stood staring at the gathering sky because she could not bear the dying a second longer.
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She had been married to a man she had loved and respected an now her future, like May's, was stretched bleakly before her. Perhaps if she and May had spoken about him,if they had spoken about anything more than trivial things, they would have found out at least this about one another, that there had been such love.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0701183403, Hardcover)

What happens to a family when one of the brothers publishes his “misery memoir?” Is his litany of childhood torment a complete invention? Or was there really a cupboard under the stairs?

The farmhouse was called The Beacon and they had been born and reared there, May, Colin, Frank and Berenice, but only May had been left for the last 27 years . . .

May had been the clever daughter and she had escaped the shelter of The Beacon, just once, to go to university. But in London she had been pursued by nameless terrors, the victim of fears and anxieties. Now she was the spinster daughter, the one who stayed, who nursed her father after his accident and looked after her mother in her old age.

Frank was the one who got away. He married and moved on. But why does no one ever mention Frank’s name?

Richly atmospheric, evoking mystery, ambiguity and suspense, The Beacon is a novella which continues to resonate beyond the final pages.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Colin. May. Frank. Berenice. The Prime children grew up in a bleak North Country farmhouse called the Beacon. They seemed contented enough. Colin married and went to work on a neighbouring farm. Berenice married locally, too. May stayed behind at the Beacon, the spinster daughter looking after ageing parents." "And then there was Frank, with pale green eyes. Frank who was always watching." "Frank was the one who got away. He left for London and Fleet Street, but journalism was not enough. Frank wanted fame and money ... and he got them, by writing about his old home, his family, his past. The Beacon explores the impact of a memoir on a family which is made to feel shamed, bewildered, blighted. Frank's telling the world about his own childhood, as he remembers it, has a devastating effect on an entire community."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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