I think we appreciate a change in Laura.
She is still quite selfish, but I think this matter with Heddy is making her see the world in a different way. She is aware of the terrible way she treated Heddy in the past, and she feels guilty for the part she might have played in Heddy’s mental health. We learn about more nasty episodes in their past. We know that Laura used every opportunity to humiliate her even if Heddy had never done anything to her. The only reason Laura had for hating her was that she was forced to share her car and dad with her when her father took them to dance classes. There is a quite terrible moment when there was a disco in their school and her father announced that he was taking Heddy with them. Laura cried and protested, and then her father started hitting Laura before they picked Heddy up. Laura never enjoyed the dance because she spent the whole night locked in the school toilets and crying. I think Laura’s father’s reaction is quite over the top, and his and his wife’s insistence in helping Heddy and her family seems to be more meaningful than the generous acts of some neighbours. I wonder if Laura’s father did something to Heddy’s father in the past, and that was he kept wanting to help Heddy and her mother. We know that Heddy’s father used to work for him and his father in their factory, but then he got sick and had to retire until he died. Did Laura’s father feel responsible for the man’s decay in some way?
There is another episode in which Laura was also more than nasty to Heddy. She noticed that Heddy fancied a popular boy in their school. So what she did was to send letters to Heddy as if they were from the boy, declaring his love to Heddy. Then she asked her to go to the cemetery for a rendezvous, and it was in the cemetery where Laura and her friend Jane started insulting and humiliating Heddy. Laura went as far as not letting her go when she wanted, and as a result, Heddy fell, broke her wrist, and got a gash in her head. Laura never felt remorseful for that, and I think this is by far the worst thing she did. Ridiculing and making fun of someone’s feelings is the worst someone can do. Nothing can hurt us more than when others mock at the deepest feelings in our hearts.
Now years later Laura is finally feeling guilty for all she did. It is at this moment she is also feeling snubbed but not close to what Heddy must have felt. Heddy was a little girl then, and children are more vulnerable and feel everything more strongly. Now Laura is an adult and knows how to deal with life. Besides, what she is going through is positive as she knows what kind of friends she has. What happened is that a building which used to be an old people’s home is supposed to be pulled down and rebuilt, and during a dinner party she threw at home, she wanted to have a laugh and commented that she had heard that they were going to recollocate asylum seekers there. The rumour spreads, and when she admits she made it up, all her supposed friends react as if she had committed a crime. They all snub her and she feels isolated. How stupid these women are!!! How can anybody be angry for something like that? How shallow are they!!! And the worst thing is that James, her husband, sides with the other women against her. What is wrong with him? I have to say I don’t like James at all. He is the version of a trophy husband to be shown around but ineffectual in every other way. We know that Laura tried to tell him once about her cuts, but she realized she couldn’t because that is what was expected from her. I think their is nothing but a sham, and I imagine that the other married couples are the same. Laura is coming to realize how inane her life is, but this is the kind of life she wanted.
This is quite a different book, and I like it in its originality. The main character is almost a villain, and even though at present she is not as wicked as she used to be, she is not likeable. What I like is that she is starting to realize what kind of person she has been. I imagine that in the end she won’t change or try to change because the world is too imbued in her. Quite sad, I think.