Richard Mason - The Lighted Rooms
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Lighted Rooms takes on a vast array of human experience from Boer War concentration camps and townships of modern-day Bloemfontein to commodities trading crises and antiseptic nursing homes in 21st century London. Before consigning her mother, Joan, to a nursing home in Wandsworth, hedge fund trader Eloise takes her to visit their family home, now a shopping mall, in Bloemfontein. Called back to London when an investment goes awry, Eloise leaves Joan to investigate her family’s experience of the war. Joan discovers her grandmother’s diary recording her time in a concentration camp which, when she returns to London, triggers the entanglement of hallucination that consumes her til death.
The book is enjoyable, entertaining, and perfectly readable, but had Mason made more of his material, it could have produced an astounding narrative. Instead, he has written one that, though engaging, never quite grasps the imagination or reaches the climax that it could.