In Hilary Mantel’s 2009 Guardian review of Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger—a post-war tale of a haunted mansion—she refers to the protagonist, Dr. Faraday, in his most important role: the skeptic. “Every ghost story,” Mantel writes, “needs a Dr. Faraday, a blunt literalist with a sturdy sense of self.” And whose sense of self could be sturdier than an English country doctor’s?
It’s no coincidence that Faraday is first called to the manor to treat an anxious serving girl, the least powerful, and therefore least reliable, member of the household. Before long both the elderly lady of the house and her daughter develop symptoms. Indeed, there is only one man in the family, the shell-shocked brother. He is quickly dispatched to an institution, leaving Faraday as a kind of de facto head of the household. The doctor’s real role, to pare back to essentials, is the patriarchal authority. Mantel...
To read this article, you must buy the issue or have LRC Web Full-Text Access.
If you already have Web Full-Text Access to Literary Review of Canada content, please log in with one of the two options below.
If not, sign up today!
- Not already an LRC subscriber? Subscribe today, and be sure to select either the “DIGITAL” or “PRINT and DIGITAL” option. You’ll then be entitled to read this — and other magazine content from past and current issues — in full! (Note: Web Full-Text Access will take effect the following business day.)
- Already a subscriber to the LRC‘s Print edition, but haven’t yet signed up for Web Full-Text Access? Contact us and we’ll reply right away with instructions on how to upgrade your existing subscription.
Log In Option 1
Log In Option 2
* Subscribers who have chosen to receive both the LRC‘s print and digital editions can find their subscriber number in the address area of any recent printed copy cover, above their name; it is six digits long, immediately following “LRC.”