The Hireling

By LP Hartley


Emotionally paralysed by grief at her husband’s death, Lady Franklin, an eligible young widow, unburdens herself to Leadbitter–a gallant, hard-bitten ex-soldier who has invested his savings, and himself, in the car he drives for hire–as he takes her on a series of journeys.

He in turn beguiles her with stories of his nonexistent wife and children thereby weaning her from her self-absorption, but creating for himself a dreamlife with Lady Franklin at the heart of it. Half-hoping to make his dream come true, Leadbitter takes a bold step which costs him her company and brings the story to a dramatically unexpected end. “The Hireling” was made into a 1973 film starring Sarah Miles and Robert Shaw.

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