As we read Hester’s diary, we get to know her better.
Her other brother dies, and shortly afterwards it is Walter who is killed in action. She doesn’t feel about Walter’s death the way she believes she should. Actually, even though she mourns him as she would any other person, she also feels relieved. It is obvious that she never loved Walter, and now that she knows she won’t have to marry him, she feels freer and more at ease.
William has leave and visits the estate. I am pretty sure that William is the receiver of those love letters. In his visit we see some some small closeness between them as they talk about the war. William is in awe when he is around Hester, and from something that his father says, I am certain that William has been in love with Hester in secret for years. His father dies, and William is also given some leave for the funeral. It is in this time frame when Hester writes a puzzling entry. She talks about something terrible happening and not knowing what to do. When they read the entry, Phoebe thinks that this could be what made Ivy burn everything. Yet, Ann thinks that the terrible thing must be something else, and she concludes that since her life was already surrounded by death, it must be something that could be big in the last century. So she thinks that it must be sex. Could Ann be right and Hester had sex with William? I am curious to find out if Ann is right.
Apart from this, I have discovered that I was wrong about Ivy’s parenthood. It is true that Violet was her mother. At least, what I have read so far, Violet has got pregnant by one of the young men who were at the front. Yet, Ivy learns that George, her beau, has been killed, so knowing she has no other option, she decides to tell Hester. I find Hester quite naive; the poor woman is ignorant about men and women, and she questions Violet about what happens between a woman and a man for a baby to come into being. Since her father is dead and her brother missing in action, Hester offers Violet to work as a maid for her mother but she needs to hide her condition.
I am still in the dark about certain things. Did William and Hester have a romance? Did they exchange those love letters inside the seed packets? If they did, when did this happen? Was it during his leave? And why did Hester adopt Ivy? Did Violet die in childbirth? We know that William didn’t die in the war, and Hester never married. Why? If they were in love, why didn’t they get together after the war? As far as I know, Hester doesn’t have anybody to answer to. Her male relatives are all dead, and her mother is just a shadow of what she used to be, and not right in her head.