Pharos, by Alice Thompson

Subtitled "A Ghost Story", and set in the 19th Century, this tells the story of a woman washed up in mysterious circumstances on a small Scottish island which is inhabited by a couple of lighthouse keepers. The woman can't remember anything about her past, and so the lighthouse keepers take care of her.

The story starts with a single lighthouse keeper on the island, so you expect things to be fairly lonely. But he's soon joined by another man to help with the work. Then the woman is washed up, and then one of the keeper's sister arrives, and then a young girl, who may or may not be a ghost, turns up. So in fact it gets quite crowded.

The whole story has a vaguely surreal feel to it: the keepers have a dark secret and so are keen not to let the washed-up woman find out too much, but I didn't feel that this explained all of their peculiar behaviour. In fact the whole thing was a bit dreamlike, which maybe was intentional, but since I couldn't tell which parts were meant to be real and which weren't, I found it difficult to follow, and to get interested in what was going on.

Completed : 26-Sep-2003

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