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When successful business man, Grover Blackford – described by his wife as sixteen stone of solid selfishness – falls to his death from the mountain fortress of Sigiria in Sri Lanka, it could have been a tragic accident.
On the other hand none of the people with him had reason to regret his passing. Indeed the world seemed a safer and sweeter place without him.
As the story unfolds the truth is finally revealed, but "Other Women" is more than a whodunnit. It explores with sympathy, but also with sharp satirical humour, the shifting sands of family life as children grow up and parents move into middle age.
Corinne, Grover's widow, has always seen herself in relation to a man: as a daughter, then a wife and now a widow. Not so her rebellious teenage daughter Priscilla, who is very much a person in her own right. It is her influence which enables her mother, in a kind of role reversal, to assert her own independence.
"I was never somebody in my own right, I always existed in relation to somebody else," Corinne realises. But it is not too late. Alone, free, no longer young, a better life lies ahead.
Becky, the headmaster's gentle and caring wife, also has a daughter who, born in a feminist era, cannot understand the ways of the previous generation. She is shocked that her parents had not lived together before marrying. "You wouldn't go out and commit yourself to a computer without testing it, would you?" she points out. "But you committed yourself to a man for the rest of your life without even trying him out." Later Becky finds herself wondering, "Who would have thought, in that far off time, that one day all that virtuous restraint would have to be apologised for?"
She too, after much suffering and emotional turmoil, finds the courage to reject responsibility for the action of others and forge a new life for herself, as they both discover that supported by other women they can work out their own salvation.