It is 223 pages long, and consists of two roughly equal halves, titled first Olive on page 1, and then Megan on page 127. The division of the book into two halves is for a stylistic change of perspective or vantage point. While Olive was crippled from a car crash, Megan is a gorgeous actress. One of the issues is whether beauty is only skin deep, and whether the intellect, taken separately and by itself, is or can be a source of attraction. Similarly, whether beautiful people can transmigrate to beautiful bodies if they are trapped in bodies unsuitable to them. Finally, there is the issueof whether car crashes can be induced psychically, or if they depend purely on chance.
Megan hopes to be an actress, and goes to London for auditions and tryouts. Olive, on the other hand, is not particularly photogenic, and worries about remaining single for the rest of her life; she lost her father some years ago to suicide, and as the years have gone on, she now has arthritis and a stooped or crooked back, deformed as a result of a life threatening car accident prior to puberty.
Nextdoor to Olive, a man and woman have moved into the building she used to live in, back when her father was alive. There is something suspicious about the new couple because the woman looks unusually young for her age, and has possibly stopped aging. When compared against photographs from years ago, the woman remains the same, but her husband has become much older. The differences are striking.
Megan believes that the man had done away with his first wife, and replaced her with a new one. Megan sets out to prove there has been a replacement of some kind, quite possibly involving murder on the one hand, and immigration fraud on the other. The wife is described as having waxen features, pale and white.
But since they moved in, Olive has become quite fond of the strange couple nextdoor. Although they generally keep to themselves, they threw a party in the summer, and convened a seance in a darkened room for the purpose of reaching out to the afterworld. The curtains were drawn and the room was black. After the seance was over, everybody said that Olive had spoken with the voice of a young child, commenting to her dad about a small bird that had died. What no one knew at the party, was that Olive's nickname was Livy - the name that was called out in the middle of the seance.
Olive keeps returning to an upstairs window with a glass chip in it. The wind blows through a tiny hole in the chip, and sometimes she puts her finger on it, and feels the wind. Hours pass by, sitting there and feeling the wind, and forgetting the time. Eventually, she forgets who she is, and another presence takes her place. Does this happen to anyone else that goes up there, and sits there, or is it connected to the seances she has been attending? Simultaneously, the beautiful but fragile-appearing woman nextdoor, previously a gifted medium, has grown more and more withdrawn, apparently lost in a deep and incurable catatonic trance.
Change of Perspective
The first half of the novel revolves around Olive, while the second half switches to a series of love letters sent by Megan to her boyfriend. In the middle of this correspondence, Megan discovers a bundle of papers that appear to be Olive's diary. Diaries often have very personal details, and on the basis of this diary, Megan is shocked to discover that Olive conceived a son when she was 13 with her own brother; the son was born mongoloid and was sent to a home for the care of mentally disabled children. Reeling with shock or consternation, she slams her fist through the window Olive used to sit in front of.
Doctor Strange, a comic book series involving out-of-body experiences by the lead character, a doctor who is unable to practice his trade any more