Bartholomew and Hester are unmarried siblings who move to a village together when Bartholomew, a Church of Ireland vicar, takes over a small abandoned church at Hester’s urging. But he is suddenly struck by doubt and feels himself an impostor.
“Then—as it happened, on a Sunday night—Bartholomew with cruel suddenness was aware of a realization that made him feel as if he had been struck a blow so powerful it left him, though not in pain, without the full use of his faculties.”
And that change leaves him empty as he and Hester face her terminal illness. I’m not sure what to make of this story (which, by the way, is Trevor’s second New Yorker story of the year, putting him in a tie with Primo Levi), which depends so much on understanding what is happening in Bartholomew’s mind as struggles both with his own faith and with Hester’s passing. It’s a difficult story and I think one that I’m going to put aside to reread.
June 4, 2007: “Faith” by William Trevor