The Comforters contains two broad plot lines: Laurence Manders’ discovery of his grandmother’s involvement in a diamond-smuggling operation, and Caroline Rose’s persecution by an invisible consciousness, a “Typing Ghost” that repeats and remarks upon her thoughts and actions. Much of what happens in The Comforters is connected to the attempts of Laurence and Caroline to solve these mysteries and to prove to each other that their perceptions are grounded in a reality external to themselves.
At the beginning of the novel, Laurence has gone to his grandmother’s house in Sussex, and Caroline, a recent convert to Catholicism, is in retreat from her home in London. While Laurence is excited and intrigued by his suspicions about his grandmother, Caroline’s awareness of the Typing Ghost leads her to fear that she is going mad. With little help from Laurence, her friends, and her priest, Caroline realizes that “a writer on another plane of existence” is writing a story about her and that in believing this she has “hit on the truth.” Since the attempts of Laurence to tape the Typing Ghost’s remarks fail and her friends think her mad, Caroline’s suffering is an “isolation by ordeal” filled with a private incomprehension not unlike that experienced by the biblical Job.
At the beginning of book 2, however, the focus of the novel shifts from Caroline’s Typing Ghost to Laurence’s grandmother and her...
(The entire section is 511 words.)