It was a strange coincidence that I finished The Dream of Doctor Bantam on the same day that I saw The Master. Both Jeanne Thornton’s debut novel and P.T. Anderson’s latest film feature Scientology-like cults wrapped around unconventional love stories. There is also something common between the disturbed, restless spirit of Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell and Thornton’s central character, Julie Thatch, a hardened teenager whose sense of direction is shaken after her older sister’s suicide.

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