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About the book
  • Published: 1 December 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409016724
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 160

The Beacon

Marvellously written short novella from Susan Hill - a family story as evocative, gripping and Gothic as her best-selling ghost story, The Woman in Black.

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.

  • Pub date: 1 December 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409016724
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 160

About the Author

Susan Hill

Susan Hill has been a professional writer for over fifty years. Her books have won awards and prizes including the Whitbread, the John Llewellyn Rhys and the Somerset Maugham, and have been shortlisted for the Booker. She was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Honours. Her novels include Strange Meeting, I’m the King of the Castle, In the Springtime of the Year and A Kind Man. She has also published autobiographical works and collections of short stories as well as the Simon Serrailler series of crime novels. The play of her ghost story The Woman in Black has been running in London’s West End since 1988. She has two adult daughters and lives in North Norfolk.


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Praise for The Beacon

“Controlled, sparse and powerful writing”

Woman and Home

“Beautiful, clean prose...[an] absorbing story”

Literary Review

“An almost perfect little literary novel outside any genre...it possesses the light tug of menace and almost invisible haze of tension that characterise Hill's ghost stories...a novel of great structural and stylistic control”


“Magnificent...It is all done so well, so wisely, that this short book is richly satisfying...it is a little masterpiece”

Daily Telegraph

“This enigmatic novella tracks the full impact of Frank's book, probing notions of guilt and truth, and deftly capturing those family bonds that warp even as they appear to nurture”

Hephzibah Anderson, Daily Mail

“Captivating... There is, from the start, a highly charged atmosphere of anxiety and ambiguity...the suspense and mystery work perfectly, and for this Hill's economy is exactly what is needed”

Financial Times

“Compelling, cut through with sloe-sharp details as Hill exhibits complete mastery of the tools at her disposal... Like a ringmaster flicking her whip, Hill manipulates an awful, pathetic irony uncoloured by melodrama... Reader's familiar with Hill's novels will not be surprised by the long spell cast by this one. Nor will they be disappointed in this spare and understated book, whose richness and intensity belie its elegant economy of effect. It is a moving, evocative and rewarding novel”

The Times

“Short, beautifully crafted and gripping... Hill's astute and skilful probing of motives and the ambiguities of appearances extends the reach of the novel much wider”

Sunday Times

“A clever novel that's timeless in its tension-building storytelling”

Good Housekeeping

“A brilliantly eerie little tale...with a very adroitly handled contemporary theme: the misery memoir”

Scotland on Sunday

“A chilling tale of a farming family”

Fanny Blake, Woman and Home

“Taut novella”

James Urquhart, Financial Times

“Misery memoirs may no longer be the flavour of the month, but according to Susan Hill's new novel, their consequences can be far reaching. In search of a quick buck, middle-aged journalist Frank Prime pens a bestseller detailing his childhood on a remote North Country farm.”

Emma Hagestadt, The Independent

“Not a word is wasted in this chilling novella”

Natalie Sanderson, The Times

“A thought-provoking story”

Katie Owen, Sunday Telegraph

“This novel is short, beautifully crafted and gripping”

The Sunday Times Magazine

“A work of great creepiness and subtle power. It will linger 'orribly in the mind.”

Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

“Expertly structured, her beautifully written prose as haunting as the best ghost story”

Sophie Missing, Observer

“From ghost stories to crime thrillers to children's novels, Susan Hill is a writer of striking versatility. 'The Beacon' is a literary novel - done to spectacular effect”

Catherine Humble, The Telegraph Review

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