Sunday 24 April 2022

The Beacon

Finished April 24
The Beacon by Susan Hill

Hill's novels are very atmospheric and this one, set around a family in a small North Country town in England gives us a sense of isolation and loneliness. The Prime family has farmed here for years, John Jr. taking over from John, and living in the attic with his wife Bertha until the farm is his. John and Bertha raised four children: Colin, May, Frank, and Berenice. May always stood a bit apart from her siblings as she was academically minded and got a place at university. 
But her year in London wasn't what she thought it would be and she returned home to the farm, which was called The Beacon. Colin married young and worked in farming. Berenice married a man who was quiet and supportive, and Frank left. May stayed, gradually taking on more and more of the duties around the farm until both of her parents died. 
May visited Colin and Berenice and they were as close as could be expected. They didn't think of Frank often, until he wrote a memoir. That became a turning point that changed their lives and the relationships they had with the community. 
As we see them take in this information, make decisions in the wake of it, and get on with their lives as best they can, we also see the underlying emotions.
This short novel is one that will stay with you as you think about how actions influence so much beyond the ones who initiated them. 

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