I really liked the ending.
From the flashbacks in Rhoda’s past we learn how deep the story with Matthew was. Then one day she learns that he is dead when he doesn’t turn up as he usually did. Through his flat mate she discovers that Matthew died of an asthma attack. Rhoda gets depressed. What she and Matthew had was really lovely, more than an affair. I can imagine her sadness and how much she missed Matthew. Her parents don’t help much as they think that she couldn’t have loved him so much in such a short time and she would get over him with time. Rhoda goes to see his parents, and even though at first they are surprised to meet her, they are welcoming and warm later, letting her stay with them that night. Mrs Baxter even sends her some photographs of Matthew and an unfinished letter in which Matthew talks about Rhoda. The woman encourages her to live life to the fullest as Matthew would have wanted.
Then Peter returns and Rhoda doesn’t know how to act around him. Yet, Peter’s presence is reassuring, and she thinks she will do her best for him. As I suspected, Peter knew about Matthew. His mother told him, and even though he tells his mum that he can overlook that, I think the presence of Matthew in Rhoda’s life has always been on his mind. Their wedding is quite low key, and even on their wedding night there is no spark between them. I can’t go as far as to say that they made a mistake marrying, but I think things would have been better if they had talked for real.
It is on their tenth wedding anniversary that things come to head. Rhoda gives him a card and tells him that she really cares. Then she tells him about knowing Helen, and then a big row ensues. The secrets that they had been holding all these years are shouted. Peter tells her that he knows about Matthew and he is aware that he always loved her more than Rhoda loved him. He also accuses her of not being there for him, but Rhoda also accuses him of not letting her into his feeling and keeping Helen and Archie a secret. Then Peter storms out, and with trepidation Rhoda fears she has lost him to Helen, because now she knows that her suspicions are right, and there has been something going on with Helen.
Peter goes to Helen, and I have to say that despite my previous dislike, Helen acts well, and she scolds him, telling him that he is wasting his time and stringing her along when he should realize how lucky he is for having Rhoda. It is at this moment that Peter realizes that even though the allure of an affair with Helen was big, he doesn’t feel that way anymore, and he realizes that it has been Rhoda all along. So he calls her to tell her he is on his way home and they are to go out on their anniversary. So it is a happy ending. I like the detail about the shoes Rhoda polishes for him as a way of showing her love. It is what her father said about her mother when he heard her polishing his boots, which was his way of knowing how much she loved him.
I loved the book. I suffered along the characters, but it was a lovely read. Just wonderful