Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore
Death and the Seaside
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Bonnie has never finished anything and, at nearly 30, her life has been a litany of failure and ineptitude. Moving out of her parents’ house into a flat, she forms an unusual friendship with her landlady, Sylvia, who takes an interest in one of her half-written stories. Sylvia urges Bonnie to seek an ending to her story, taking her to an unsettling house by the sea; here, fact and fiction blur, and a steady thrum of suspense takes the book to its inexorable climax. Alison Moore’s debut novel The Lighthouse was shortlisted for The Man Booker, and Death and the Seaside has the same limpid prose with an ecstasy of detail. Metaphor unwraps metaphor in this Russian doll narrative, as Bonnie’s short story mirrors her own (patently fictional) world: here, Moore raises philosophical and psychological questions about suspension of disbelief and free will. Moore is cunning with literary conceits and motifs but the story remains absorbing and sharp. “A hidden world beneath the manifest one,” this short, elegant novel is a glimpse into the subconscious – like a lucid dream.