What a sad ending. I’ve cried buckets!!! I really didn’t expect this to happen. The end is bittersweet as Alice’s children meet their destinies.
Fion becomes more determined than any of her sisters as she runs a refuge for abused women in the house that Mr Flynn left her. It is through this that she meets the man that becomes her second husband and the father of her new child. It is Jerry, a police officer, who falls head over heels with Fion the moment he lays eyes on her.
Maeve has her special moment in the book. She is happy with her husband Martin. However, the day that Orla’s first-born daughter Lulu gets married and Maeve sees all her nephews and nieces, she realizes something is missing and she longs for a child more than anything in her life. Martin is against the idea of children, but for once Maeve goes against her logic, so she stops taking the pill and becomes pregnant. She is ready to have the child on her own if her husband opposes her. Martin is not very warm towards her when she tells him, but when she has the baby, he confesses that his attitude comes from fear. He is afraid of losing Maeve’s love or having something happen to his child. The scene between Maeve and Martin at the hospital is very sweet and tender, and I am glad they reached an understanding.
Cormac is one of the characters that change more during the novel. After her hippy period, he returns to Liverpool to have a family with Pol. When Pol has the baby, he wants to believe the girl is his, but it is clear that her red hair is very similar to their American friend. Then Cormac realizes that his cousin Maurice is in love with Pol, so he feels it is his duty to step aside and let Maurice steal his girl. He realizes he is not so fond of Pol as he thought, and he thinks that since he got the better part of the deal when Cora swapped the babies, he feels his cousin needs to have the girl he loves. That was strange but quite generous. In the end, Pol and Maurice become a couple, get married and have more children.
Then Cormac starts a business of perfume with a colleague she meets at work. Vicky is in love with Cormac, but she knows Cormac is not interested as she is aware of her plain looks. I felt sorry for Vicky, especially when Cormac starts seeing the model they use for their publicity campaign. Thankfully, Cormac eventually realizes that is it is Vicky he feels more at home with and he asks her to marry him, which what happens at the end of the novel. In his proposal Vicky feels there is something missing; Cormac doesn’t even mention love, and she knows she will love him more than he will love her. It is not clear how much Cormac loves Vicky, but he knows she is the woman for him and she will never hurt her just like Cora hurt him. Vicky also appeases him when she tells him that there was no way two brown-eyed people like Cora and Billy could have a blue-eyed boy. I am not sure about that because if there are relatives who are blue-eyed you can have the same eye colour even if your parents don’t. I have greenish eyes even if my parents are both brown-eyed, and I also have friends who are blue-eyed whose parents are not. So I am not sure if Vicky’s theory tails, but I think the important thing here is that Cormac learns that whatever happened years ago, his family is the one who he loves. It is not clear whether Cora is Cormac’s mother or Maurice’s, but I don’t think it really matters for us readers.
Then the part that had me in tears is when Orla discovers she has cancer. Orla has never been an easy woman, wanting more than life has giving him. His relationship with Micky goes from bad to worse, when she cheats on him with a football player and he finds out. Then as Orla starts driving and becomes acquainted with men, she makes a terrible mistake. She meets a man in a pub, and the next thing she knows is that she is naked in bed with him. She thinks that the man spiked her drink and took advantage of her. Then the man starts harassing her, calling her at all time and sending her letters. One day she finds him in her house, and hadn’t it been for Micky appearing the man would have raped her. This is the end of their marriage as Micky admits that he has been seeing another woman and he wants a divorce. Orla decides to leave and move with her mother, so Micky and his new woman can live together in their house.
Orla starts working for Cormac and Vicky as a sales representative. It is through this job that she meets a man who she finds attractive. When they finally get together, the man realizes she has a lump in her breast, and he tells her to go home. Orla discovers that the lumps are malignant and she has to have a double mastectomy. The doctors tells her that there is nothing to do as the cancer has spread. It is then that Micky reappears and confesses he and his woman split up months ago since she couldn’t compete with Orla as he is the only one he loves. They get back together. I cried buckets in these scenes. Then Orla, the stubborn woman she has always been, thinks she wants to have a baby, give life when hers is finishing. Her sisters and Lulu, her first-born daughter, are pregnant, and she wants to have a baby. Micky thinks it’s crazy, but Orla has her way and she gets pregnant. It is the day when Vicky and Cormac get married that Orla gets into a coma. She has a c-section and her tiny baby is born as her mother’s life drips from her.
The last chapter is lovely and also sad. Alice finds refuge in her hairdressing salon as she used to do. She is terribly sad as she knows that she is about to lose one of her children. Then as twenty years ago when she found out about John’s double life, she is interrupted and found in the dark, and Neil appears. I was hoping he would come back. Neil tells her that his life hasn’t been good, and he has decided to return to the place where he was happiest, which is Liverpool, hoping that Alice’s flat were available. Alice is pleasantly surprised to find her old lover, and in her thoughts she reckons that whether they get back together or not, she knows he wil be there for her. Then as Neil and Alice look out of the window, she sees a bright star in the sky, and she knows that her daughter is dead. As I write this, I fear teary. I really loved the novel, and I have to say I have a soft spot for books that make me cry. They get to me more.
I don’t want to finish this entry without mentioning Cora. She somehow redeems herself. She is arrested by the police for stealing some shirts, and she gives Alice’s name as her next of kin. When Alice goes to get her, she realizes that Cora is in a bad situation. Her house is bare of the basics, and her clothes are frayed. Cora confesses that Billy doesn’t give him much money, and she confesses she can’t demand her pension, since she has been receiving two pensions from two women who used to live in her flat and whose papers she found. Alice is shocked about her sister-in-law’s deceit, but she offers her help. She gives her a job as a cleaner, and Cora finally admits that Alice isn’t as bad and she doesn’t even know why she hated her in the first place. Her husband also comes round when she supports him when he confesses to her that he has set fire to their son’s business as it was doing really bad and he thinks the only thing that could save it is to demand the insurance money. From that moment on, Billy and Cora become the couple they never were, and Cora even admits that after all, she married the better brother. I can’t say I liked Cora even at this point, but well, I’m glad that she also had her moment of redemption.
I love Maureen Lee’s books. They are so emotional and touches you in ways that few books do.