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The Beacon by Susan Hill

The Beacon (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Susan Hill

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1521478,635 (3.73)46
Title:The Beacon
Authors:Susan Hill
Info:Chatto & Windus (2009), Hardcover, 160 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Beacon by Susan Hill (2008)



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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Wow! This short novel was amazing.

This is the story of four siblings....one of whom moves to the city and writes a memoir of childhood abuse. Only it isn't true. This novel tells of the impact on the author and on his siblings. The ending...the very last line...hits like a punch to the heart. ( )
  LynnB | Jan 16, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
t is all done so well, so wisely, that this short book is richly satisfying. Hill's craftsmanship is masterly. We are always aware of the farming backdrop: the book begins with a superb evocation of rural hardship, whose inexorable rhythms read like pared-down Thomas Hardy.

Within this is the story of May and the book becomes a near-Chekhovian story of dreams unfulfilled. Finally we reach Frank, who discovers in himself the ambitious desires that he cannot resist.

Through him and his "truth-telling", The Beacon gradually reveals itself; and it is a little masterpiece.
added by PGCM | editTelegraph, Laura Thompson (Oct 8, 2008)
The Beacon uses a small canvas, but it examines larger issues of truth, mental health and memory. It is about the almost universal need to shake off the past to forge an adult identity, and it comments subtly on the dynamics of prescribed family roles. The child expected to escape is the one ultimately imprisoned by parental assumptions, male freedom contrasted with female duty. Ideas about wasted lives, about grinding exhaustion at the expense of self-expression and about rank injustice are all here in a novel of great structural and stylistic control.
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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.
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:55 -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)

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