Lead Review

  • Book: The Light Keeper
  • Location: Beachy Head, East Sussex
  • Author: Cole Moreton

Review Author: Tina Hartas



This is quite a short novel that packs quite a punch. The author has swept his characters into the landscape of East Sussex, around Beachy Head, and the writing has a lugubrious yet lyrical and poetic quality to it.

This area of England is a popular spot for people to choose to end their lives and as such The Guardians regularly patrol the area, in the hope that they can talk down anyone actively contemplating suicide. The shadow of suicide and human suffering in this area is thus a very real backdrop to the story.

At the heart of the novel is Jack, who has come to the area to search for his partner Sarah. She has been sliding emotionally because her most fervent wish – to have a baby – has never been fulfilled. There is also the ‘keeper’, a man who bought the lighthouse, with his partner but she has passed away and he is now struggling to find his way forward.

There is considerable grief in this novel, beautifully and at times sadly rendered. It is affecting yet not overly sorrowful. The characters move through a landscape that is verdant and yet stark, the green of the South Downs juxtaposed with the sheer magnificence of the white cliffs in the area; you can almost hear the waves booming and feel the wind off the sea, the gulls wheeling overhead. This novel has a tremendous sense of place.

Yes, it is a novel of many sadnesses, it is thoughtful; it is one to pick up when you are feeling robust – or when you feel you would like an emotional challenge.

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