What a wonderful end!
Ann finally guesses why Ivy got so upset that tried to burn the whole archive of her family. It is the letter that she found from William. We learn that Hester visited William in 1934 when he was very sick, and she told him the truth about Ivy. She wasn’t his niece, but his daughter. Hester and Violet had decided to concoct that story about Violet being Ivy’s mother because Hester wanted to spare her mother the shame of having her daughter having a child out of wedlock. At the time they didn’t know if William was dead or alive. Hester hoped that if William returned from the war, they could get married, since she didn’t care about social propriety any longer. Yet, William didn’t remember her, and she kept quiet because she wanted William’s love,and it was clear that when he lost his memory, that love went as well. Then seventeen years later it was too late. When Hester told him the truth about Ivy, she asked him to keep quiet about Ivy’s real parentage because Hester wanted to protect Ivy, and she knew that the truth would upset her. However, William wrote her a letter, and he died shortly afterwards. We don’t know why Hester never told Ivy she was her mother, but when Ivy found the letter from William, she still thought that Violet was her mother, and the letter did not mention Hester as her mother at all. So Ivy jumped to the conclusion she was the result of an incestuous relationship. The shame was so big that she wanted to erase every single trace of her shameful origins, and in the process she died. I really didn’t expect that at all. It was really sad that Ivy had to die under that misconception, and never learnt how much her parents had loved each other and her.
As for Ann, she finally remembers what happened forty years ago, and I was right. It was about Sylvester and the man was dead. It was when she sees Connor standing on the swing that he was building as a surprise for her that the memories rush to her. She has a shock. Phoebe later tells Connor that Ann saw her father hanging on that very spot. However, she forgot or wiped the memory, and since she was so small and had had such a shock, Phoebe decided not to mention her father’s suicide. She simply said that he was gone, and as years went by, she felt unable to tell the truth. We learn that Sylvester was depressed, and matters got worse when he learnt that Phoebe had had an abortion. He considered she had murdered his child, and Phoebe had to tell him the baby wasn’t his, thus admitting her unfaithfulness, which was true. Phoebe has had to fight guilt for forty years because she thinks that she pushed her husband to suicide. Thankfully, Phoebe finally talks to her daughter, and I think it was a good thing because that trauma was disturbing her life too much.
I loved the novel. Fascinating. I also like the fact that there was a happy end, not for Ivy who died believing the worst, but for Ann, Phoebe, and Connor. Ann and Phoebe become closer as the novel progresses, and I am also glad that Ann and Connor end up together.