Alison Moore - He Wants (4 stars)

Alison Moore - He Wants

A short meditation on memory composed of tightly wreathed prose and assured plotting


The best novels are the ones that leave you with a sense of yearning, and in He Wants, Alison Moore proves her mastery of the medium. Lewis Sullivan is a retired RE teacher whose restraint has kept him in the same village his entire life. Only now, with the return of an old friend, does he begin to question his choices, and the desires that wrought them.

Like Moore’s previous novel, the 2012 Booker shortlisted The Lighthouse, this is a meditation on memory and character-moulding moments. The title of chapter one asks ‘What do you want?’ and each subsequent chapter heading pinpoints something Moore’s characters are longing for, from the mundane ‘He does not want soup’ to the sublime ‘He wants to be seen’.

As Lewis’ wants are slowly unpicked and revealed, the reader is drawn into a compelling series of regrets, coincidences and reminders that life doesn’t often bestow second chances. At fewer than 200 pages, this is a short novel, and Moore's tightly wreathed prose and assured plotting ensure a bittersweet desire for more once the final page is turned.

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