There is an unusual emphasis on ghosts in Fay Weldon's autobiography. Early on, angels appear to her mother in the local park; a woman in white sits on the six-year-old Weldon's bed; and ghosts unaccountably darken the rooms at her New Zealand high school (a sort of advance haunting, she now thinks, by the woman who was to be killed nearby in the murder dramatised in the film Heavenly Creatures). Later, there is the drowned pastor she sees on the pier at St Andrews; the poltergeist in Somerset that throws books at unsuspecting children; and, most disturbingly, the weeping ghost in the Saffron Walden house she shares with her mother and sister in early adulthood. This ghost's presence is powerful: the cat seems to stare and hiss at it and when Weldon is alone with her baby one night, it so terrifies her that she is unable to leave the bedroom to get the child's dummy, the only thing that will quieten him. Instead, she stays awake, holding the screaming baby and listening to the ghost crying through the door. When Weldon talks to her mother about this the next day, it becomes clear that she, too, feels the house is haunted. They pack and leave within hours and Weldon sells the house from a distance, without ever returning.
LRB 11 July 2002 | PDF Download