Marvellously written short novella from Susan Hill - a family story as evocative, gripping and Gothic as her best-selling ghost story, The Woman in Black.
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Published: 01 October 2009
Genre: General & literary fiction
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 twenty-seven 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 dare even to mention Frank's name? Few novelists are as clever at creating atmosphere as Susan Hill, and in The Beacon she evokes mystery, ambiguity and suspense in a story so brilliantly told, so deftly characterised and so economical with words that it continues to resonate long after the reader has closed the final pages.
Controlled, sparse and powerful writing
Woman and Home
Beautiful, clean prose...[an] absorbing story
An almost perfect little literary novel outside any genre...it possesses the light tug of menace and almost invisible haze of tension that characterise Hill's ghost stories...a novel of great structural and stylistic control
Magnificent...It is all done so well, so wisely, that this short book is richly satisfying...it is a little masterpiece
This enigmatic novella tracks the full impact of Frank's book, probing notions of guilt and truth, and deftly capturing those family bonds that warp even as they appear to nurture
Hephzibah Anderson, Daily Mail
Captivating... There is, from the start, a highly charged atmosphere of anxiety and ambiguity...the suspense and mystery work perfectly, and for this Hill's economy is exactly what is needed
Compelling, cut through with sloe-sharp details as Hill exhibits complete mastery of the tools at her disposal... Like a ringmaster flicking her whip, Hill manipulates an awful, pathetic irony uncoloured by melodrama... Reader's familiar with Hill's novels will not be surprised by the long spell cast by this one. Nor will they be disappointed in this spare and understated book, whose richness and intensity belie its elegant economy of effect. It is a moving, evocative and rewarding novel
Short, beautifully crafted and gripping... Hill's astute and skilful probing of motives and the ambiguities of appearances extends the reach of the novel much wider
A clever novel that's timeless in its tension-building storytelling
A brilliantly eerie little tale...with a very adroitly handled contemporary theme: the misery memoir
Scotland on Sunday
A chilling tale of a farming family
Fanny Blake, Woman and Home
James Urquhart, Financial Times
Misery memoirs may no longer be the flavour of the month, but according to Susan Hill's new novel, their consequences can be far reaching. In search of a quick buck, middle-aged journalist Frank Prime pens a bestseller detailing his childhood on a remote North Country farm.
Emma Hagestadt, The Independent
Not a word is wasted in this chilling novella
Natalie Sanderson, The Times
A thought-provoking story
Katie Owen, Sunday Telegraph
This novel is short, beautifully crafted and gripping
The Sunday Times Magazine
A work of great creepiness and subtle power. It will linger 'orribly in the mind.
Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
Expertly structured, her beautifully written prose as haunting as the best ghost story
Sophie Missing, Observer
From ghost stories to crime thrillers to children's novels, Susan Hill is a writer of striking versatility. 'The Beacon' is a literary novel - done to spectacular effect
Catherine Humble, The Telegraph Review
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Stunningly rejacked as part of a major reinvention of this neglected 20th century ...
Susan Hill has been a professional writer for over fifty years. Her books have won awards and prizes including the Whitbread, the John Llewellyn Rhys and the Somerset Maugham; and have been shortlisted ...