Summary (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
Julia Ferndale has been a widow for nine years, her two daughters are grown and on their own, and she lives a fairly comfortable life with her mother in the nineteenth century Swan House, near Stone St. Martin, typing legal documents for a nearby firm of solicitors. Then she meets Francis Tyte, an actor fourteen years her junior; they fall in love and plan to wed and honeymoon in Italy.
That is perhaps the last happy news of Other People’s Worlds, a novel that sucks readers deeper and deeper into its psychological mire. Francis Tyte is a psychopath, an attractive-looking man who lives out a series of criminal fantasy lives, alternately attracting and repelling people (Julia is only the latest) to satisfy his own murky needs. As Julia is pulled into his world, she meets more and more of his other victims. In a series of chapters told from the perspective of most of the major characters, the sordid lives of these victims are revealed.
When the novel opens, Julia is preparing happily for her wedding, and Francis is rehearsing a small part in a television thriller, based on the sensational story of the Victorian murderess Constance Kent, being filmed some miles away. Only Mrs. Anstey, Julia’s intuitive mother, knows that something is wrong: “Julia should not be marrying this man,” she realizes early in the novel.
It is never clear exactly what Francis’ motives are (or if he has any, or if he would recognize them if...
(The entire section is 729 words.)
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