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Other People's Worlds Hardcover – June, 1980

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: The Bodley Head Ltd; First Edition edition (June 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140106693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140106695
  • ASIN: 0370303121
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,624,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By JoeV VINE VOICE on August 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
If while stuck in a crowded airport, sitting on a subway train or waiting for a table at a popular restaurant, you've mused about or even concocted lives for some of the people around you, then you'll enjoy William Trevor's books. The author has an uncanny ability to capture the despair of individuals trapped within circumstances - particularly when those circumstances are of their own making. Trevor's "studies" of these personal psychological dilemmas are enlightening, depressing, always engaging, and are laced with subtle and dark humor. The author effectively slips the reader into his characters' lives as a true fly on the wall, chronicling the human condition, without being heavy-handed, overwrought or judgmental. This novel is less than 250 pages and it's difficult to imagine another author telling this story as poignantly in a book twice the length.

In Other People's Worlds, 47 year old widow Julia Ferndale has fallen in love with and is set to marry 33 year old Francis Tyte. Francis is a bit-player actor, his face recognizable from television tobacco commercials, who has a very tawdry past. In a word he is a true scoundrel, with a trail of human wreckage, the result of his self-centered manipulative opportunism.

Julia's elderly mother, with her maternal radar, is more than a little concerned about her daughter's matrimonial decision. She ineffectually drags her two young adult grand-daughters within her web of anxiety - passing the buck, but solving little. Meanwhile Francis' lies and his past are stalking him, in the person of Doris, an old-flame - who provides the book's most pathetic, and darkly humorous scenes. (There is also a Ferndale housekeeper whose actions cause a chuckle or three.
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Format: Paperback
An attractive and polite young actor helps with the gardening in the charming home of his wife to be. The setting is very English and very tranquil, at least for a while. Through the elderly eyes of the bride's mother, (the bride is a middle-aged still attractive widow,named Julia,) certain perceptions lead to apprehensions. Francis, having become slightly famous for his tobacco commercials, is wearing makeup, something Mrs. Anstey had not noticed before. This deception is the tip of the iceberg. In a short period of time, with no one to share her concerns, the groom begins to take on sinister qualities, and the older woman feels instinctive hatred and terrific alarm. She is correct in her assessment, indeed he is far worse than even she could imagine. In London, there are another mother daughter complication. The mother, Doris, is an impossible alcoholic, her daughter, Joy, Francis' child, is a troubled adolescent who doesn't read and is always in trouble at her school. Trevor's early novel, and the first of his that I've read, is steeped in tension, and remains a slender, but vivid thriller. Everywhere Francis has attached himself, he has lied, cheated, stolen with no conscience. He is a classic child-abused predator with disturbed sexuality and a twisted mind. He heeps grief onto others but in psychological ways, not physical.
The good and healthy people that he contaminates suffer greatly, and each, in their own way, are forced to come to terms with their own inner demons. These involve religious and characterological myths and failures of faith. There are primarily the overly compassionate and easily conned, led by Julia and Doris, and the more cynical but equally pained people who love them.
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Format: Paperback
Trevor's writing style is simple, beautiful and powerful as he portrays his characters thoughts and actions in a way that makes you care for each of them, however horrible their actions may be.
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Format: Paperback
Other People's Worlds is William Trevor at his best. How wonderful that the new and highly regarded movie, Felicia's Journey, will expand this great writer's audience. This early Trevor novel has all the skill and sharp characterizations that have made his towering intellect so admired worldwide.
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