I enjoyed the end. Laura comes a long way since we first saw her. She finally admits her wrongs, and through the Partridges she realizes the shortcomings in her life. She might have a perfect husband, children, and friends, but there is someone missing which the Partridges have aplenty: love. I believe that Laura loves her children, but there is little or no love coming from her friends and husband. When she behaves in a way that in their ‘perfect’ world is unacceptable, she is deemed a pariah, an outcast. I would have thought that her husband loved her more, but it is obvious that she is only there as long as she respected the rules and didn’t rock the boat. No wonder that at the end of the novel Laura thinks that her marriage is over.
I am glad that despite her nastiness as a child, Laura finally helps the Partridges. At first, she agreed to help Mrs Partridge because she felt cornered, but at the end of the book she helps them because she wants to. She even has the chance to apologise to Mrs Patridge and Heddy. I think she learns a good lesson from both women. The only thing Heddy tells her is that she was jealous of her as her father loved her no matter what she did while hers had died. That shows that Heddy is a much bigger person than Laura was because she could have said something about all Laura did to her, but instead she clearly told her how lucky she was. Laura also realizes that Mrs Partridge knew about her unkindness to her daughter, and she even knew about that time when she left her in the cemetery with a broken wrist and a gash in her head, which Heddy claimed had happened when she had been chased by some big boys. It is clear that Mrs Partridge had put her feelings aside because of Laura’s parents and how kind they had been.
Heddy, Nathan, and Mrs Partridge move to live near Ian, Heddy’s brother, and Laura helps them with the arrangements. It is after that when things come to a head with James. He is critical of the way Laura has changed, and he forces her to go to Tasha’s party when she doesn’t want to. This life is not what she wants, so she walks out of the party without telling anyone. Then the following day James is not happy, and they start arguing, and Laura ends up throwing coffee at James’s face and walking out. As she drives, she thinks that there must have been a reason why her father always pushed her to be friends with Heddy. She decides to turn up at her parents’ house unannounced, something which her parents don’t appreciate. Laura wants to talk about Heddy, and in the end she discovers the truth. As I had suspected, her father wanted to make up for something he had done. Heddy’s father worked for him in their carpet fitting business, and he sent Heddy’s father to a building. Later he discovered that the floors had asbestos, but he did everything to cover up the problem. Laura’s father feels responsible for the man’s death, and that is why he wanted to help Mrs Partridge and pushed Laura to be friends with Heddy. Laura is shocked, and even though her father tries to justify himself, arguing that money was short then and that was they needed all the business they could get even if it meant danger for one of his workers.
Laura leaves their house a changed woman. Her life will never be the same again. She is not the same woman she was a month ago. Her marriage is over, and all she believed in is different. We don’t know what happened after the last chapter. I imagine that Laura will divorce James and move from that perfect world she had felt so comfortable in so far, and even her parents are not the same now. So the only steady thing for her will be her children, and I bet that she will do everything so that Thomas and Arianne won’t grow up the same way she did.
It was a great book. Laura was a really flawed, unlikeable character, but it was fascinating to read the thoughts of a bully who had no regrets about it. A harsh but very interesting read.