Our reviews of
The Beacon by Susan Hill
Literary Fiction (View all)
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.
Reviewed: December 2009
Susan Hill is such a versatile author, having delighted us with the very gothic The Woman In Black, the fabulous detective series with Simon Serrailler, and classic English fiction in between. The Beacon is an austere and remote farmhouse, home to John and Bertha Prime and their children, Colin, May, Berenice and Frank. In a nutshell, and without giving too much away, Hill has focused on the four siblings; an excellent portrayal of the differing personalities, and more importantly, the different perceptions of each child with regard to their upbringing (I grew up with six siblings, and I know we all view our own upbringing differently, and obviously we all have different personalities). It is the changing loyalties between the four siblings in adulthood that really packed the punch! At only just over 150 pages, it is a great read, with just a touch of ambiguity, which I love.