The Girl from Barefoot House 4

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I still don’t understand why Josie fell in love with Jack.

As I read about their life, I couldn’t warm up to him. She mentions him being charismatic, handsome, intelligent, but I don’t know. He struck me as someone quite selfish. I just couldn’t relate to him. I was wrong about their relationship not lasting long. Josie gets pregnant, and even though Jack isn’t ecstatic, he does the right thing and marries her. Jack thinks that they should move to London, and they start living in a poky flat. Jack has as much luck with his plays as in New York. They are refused, and trying to help, Josie suggests he stay at home writing while she gets a job. By that time they already have their daughter, Laura. So that’s what they do, but Jack isn’t much luckier. Josie secretly thinks that his plays are dull, so it is no wonder nobody wants them. Then he thinks that he could send some of his work to the BBC, and then he hits pay dirt. He becomes a famous TV writer, and they are able to move to a posh neighbourhood.

We can see that things start deteriorating between Josie and Jack. He is not as laid-back and funny as when they were in New York. What irked me is that Josie keeps blaming herself for his changes as she thinks Jack has had to forfeit his ideas and art for money. She keeps thinking that if it weren’t for her, Jack would still be in New York where he seemed happier. In that sense, we don’t see Jack wondering if Josie is happy or not. He claims to love her, but apart from his declarations and their sex life, there is little to show he is so much in love. Jack starts drinking and being irritable, and Josie starts suspecting that he is being unfaithful. She finds a woman’s compact in her house after she returns from Lily’s wedding, and her neighbour tells her she saw Jack and a woman late at night. When Josie asks him, he has an explanation for it as the woman is his boss in television, and they were just discussing the new scripts.

On New Year’s Eve in 1959 things get to a head. Jack and Josie are at a neighbour’s party, and Jack is drinking too much. Josie sees her husband talking to a gorgeous blonde woman, and when the clock announces the new year, she is the only one without her husband as he is kissing the blonde. She goes home to tell Laura and her nanny a happy new year. When she tries to return to the party, her best friend in the neighbourhood and her husband are leaving and tell Josie that the house is nothing but an orgy and she shouldn’t go in. Josie returns home, worried and anxious. Jack doesn’t return until six in the morning. The following day they have a tremendous fight, and then Jack goes and leaves. For two days Josie and Laura don’t know where Jack is. Laura is anxious and worried, and even though Josie tells her a white lie about her father phoning and his car breaking down, she is still fretting. After those two days, they hear his car and Laura rushes to meet him at the garage. Josie runs after her, trying to warn her, but she is too late. There is snow and when Jack tries to get the car into the garage, the car skids and hits Laura.

That was something I didn’t expect. Laura is dead, and Josie feels her marriage is also over. They have put the house on the market, and she plans to leave for Liverpool. The last night before her departure Jack comes to her, asking for her forgiveness, and they make love one last time.

In Liverpool Josie lives with the Kavanaghs, but she feels dead inside. She decides to find a job, and a flat, and it is shortly afterwards that she realises she is pregnant. Josie is still grieving and doesn’t want this baby. She hopes it is a boy as it will be easier for her, but as luck will have it, it is another girl. She doesn’t even bother thinking of a name for her daughter, and she simply uses the name of the nurse who asks about the baby’s name. Her daughter is then called Dinah, and she is not as easy a baby as Laura was. She cries a lot, and doesn’t let her get much sleep. Josie thinks that she doesn’t love her daughter and never will, but one night when the girl wakes her up, she leaves her on the bed while she picks up a nappy, and then as she hears a noise, fears grips her, and she rushes to find Dinah, buried in the duvet. For a moment she thinks she has suffocated, but then the girl opens her eyes, and it is then that for the first time Josie tells her daughter that she loves her.

Josie and Dinah end up moving to a house. Her aunt Ivy turns up at her flat, and even though Josie is still upset with her, she lets her in. The woman comes to give her what it belongs to her by law. The money that should have been Mabel’s and now thanks to Ivy’s investments it has increased. So Josie gets to buy a house for her and her daughter. Shortly afterwards she gets a notification from some lawyers in California. Jack wants a divorce, and she grants it to him even though she knows that she is still in love with him. She encloses a letter explaining Dinah and a photo of her, but Jack never replies. I don’t know if he never got the letter or he just didn’t care. After all, his wish for a divorce was because he wanted to marry another woman.

As Dinah grows up, it is clear that she is not an easy girl, and the relationship with her mother is fractious to say the least. Now Dinah is fourteen, but I can imagine that she will create more problems as she grows older. I have the hunch that Dinah resents her mother for the love she has for Laura. There is an episode in which Dinah drew Laura after seeing a photo of her, and then Josie saw that she had drawn a cross on Laura’s painted face. Josie never confronted her daughter about this, as she was just a child, but I think this shows that Dinah was jealous of her late sibling and maybe felt less loved.

Josie’s love life is now calm but with some particular episodes. She sees Ben from time to time in family gatherings. Ben is not happy as his wife Imelda is not nice to him and lately she is having mental problems, trying to commit suicide. One night when Ben is drunk, he gets to Josie’s, and he tries to have his way with her, but thankfully Josie manages to stop him. Then from time to time Ben expresses his regrets and how he wishes he had married Josie instead. Josie doesn’t encourage him as she realises she doesn’t regret letting him go so many years ago.

The other episode is with Francie O’Leary, the first boyfriend Lily had. She meets him again in the hospital after giving birth, and they become good friends, with Francie dropping by her place regularly. Then several years later, Francie tells her that they should get married. He doesn’t love her, and she doesn’t love him either, but he thinks they could be good together. Josie refuses at first, but then she thinks that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Yet, she puts him off for a year, and she tells him to keep the engagement to themselves for a while, but they become lovers. What complicates things is when Lily, who has two daughters, tells her that she is not happy in her marriage and plans to leave her husband. Her plan now is to chase after Francie until she can get him to marry her because he is the man she has always loved. I wonder after this what will happen. It is clear that Lily won’t get Francie’s affections as he usually speaks about Lily quite scornfully. But will Josie risk her friendship to Lily for a man she doesn’t love?

Several tragedies happen to the family as well. Ben’s wife finally manages to kill herself, and then a few days later Mrs Kavanagh, who was losing her sight, stumbles and falls down the stairs, dying a few days later.

Now the year is 1974. Josie thinks that the year has a real significance, and then she reads the newspaper, which announces that it would be Louisa’s 100th birth anniversary. It is then that she remembers the envelope Louisa gave her under the instruction to open it in 1974. What is in the envelope is a series of notebooks and a note from Louisa. The woman writes that the notebooks contain her autobiography and she has left them in the property of Josie. In the newspapers Josie learns that Louisa’s agent has always trying to find the autobiography he knew Louisa was writing. So now I imagine that Jose will come forward to have the autobiography published, which will mean money for her, but she knows it will mean a fight with Louisa’s twin daughters.

 

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