The Woman Next Door – The End (Pages 103-304)

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RATING: SUPERB

SPOILERS!!!

Wow!!! I really didn’t expect that my opinion about the characters changed so much. I really felt sympathy for Hester, who is a very lonely woman. Her desire to help Melissa in this extreme situation sounds like an expression of her loneliness. She is so miserable and alone that she is ready to get involved in a crime to get back into Melissa’s good books. She and Melissa go on a nerve-wracking journey to get rid of the body. At least, it is nerve-wracking for Melissa as Hester is very calm. They have all sorts of incidents: the van breaks down, they run into a couple of police officers, and when they reach their destination, there is a fence as the place is being rebuilt and there is even a camper near the well. What they eventually do is to throw the body into the river.

When they return, Melissa is not the same and everybody notices. She has cut her hair very short and she keeps moving around like a ghost. Another difference is that Hester is now often dropping by. Then the moment that marks a turning point is when Hester overhears Melissa and her friend Saskia making derisive comments about her, and it is at this moment that Hester wants to get back at Melissa. She feels betrayed because after all she has done for her, she had other expectations. It is then that we really get to know what Hester is like. We learn that she actually killed Jamie and not Melissa. When she was left alone with the body as Melissa popped to the bathroom, the man opened his eyes and tried to speak, and then Hester finished him off, suffocating him. I really didn’t expect that at all.

After what Hester feels is a betrayal, she does everything to get her revenge. We see that somehow she has got the keys to Melissa’s house cut, and then surprisingly, she still has the pestle, the weapon that Melissa used to hit Jamie. That shows that the woman is cold and calculating as she pretended to get rid of the object, but as a matter of fact, what she threw into the wall was a pack of ice and she kept the pestle. Now Hester leaves her home in the middle of the night and sneaks into Melissa’s house and hides the pestle in the air vent. While she is in the house, she sees Tilly and Nathan, and it is clear that they have had sex. So Hester decides that this is the information she needs to ruin the friendship between Melissa and Saskia. So this is what she does, and the following morning she tells Melissa about being woken in the middle of the night by someone slamming a door and seeing Melissa and Nathan. As she expected, Melissa doesn’t like what she learns a lot, and as Hester predicted, the conversation with Tilly doesn’t go well, and Saskia’s reception is not very warm either.

We know that Hester intends to report Melissa for the crime, but her intentions get distracted when she runs into a woman and her little girl. She learns that the woman, Kerry, and the little girl who has Down Syndrome are looking for Jamie. Kerry is his wife and Amber,the little girl, her child. Hester is horrified to learn that the crime she and Melissa have committed is worse than she thought, but for a while we see her regretting her actions, but reproaching Melissa. So her intention to hurt Melissa is even deeper. While Kerry and Amber have been at Melissa’s, the little girl goes out to the garden and starts playing with Bertie, Hester’s dog. Hester is besotted with the little girl, and she learns where she lives. So the next day, with the excuse of giving back the flannel that the little girl dropped she goes to their flat. Kerry is cold with her, but she agrees to talk to Hester, who tells her that she is sure that Melissa and Jamie were intimate that night. Then she offers to look after a few hours for her, and strangely, Kerry agrees.

It is around this time that the police call on Melissa and tell her that Jamie’s body has been fished out of a river in Dorset. Melissa is nervous but she simply tells them that it is true that Jamie came to see her, asking for money, but then he went. The two police officers go, intending to talk to Kerry, and when they do, Kerry calls Hester, sobbing and desperate. Hester tells her that she could keep Amber overnight as Kerry’s mother is coming from Manchester, and she needs some peace in this painful moment. I imagine that Kerry is so distraught that she agrees. This is the moment when Hester loses the plot. She decides that a woman like Kerry, who lives in such depressed place and is capable of leaving her little girl with a stranger, doesn’t deserve a child. So she decides that she is going to start her new life with Amber as her girl.

Hester decides to take Amber to St Yves, where she spent her summers with her parents. When Melissa calls Kerry and her mother tells her about Hester having Amber. Melissa has a bad hunch about this, and when she rushes to check Hester’s house, she sees there is nobody in. Melissa instantly knows where Hester is as when they went on that adventure to get rid of Jamie, the woman mentioned the place where she had spent many happy moments. So without thinking about it twice, she books a flight as driving or going by train would take too long. Yet, when she has landed and takes the taxi to the town, she realises that she doesn’t know how she is going to find them. Yet, as luck will have it, she catches sight of Hester, Amber and Bertie going to the beach. Urgently Melissa demands to be left there, and she rushes after Hester. The two women have a heated exchange, and it is then that she learns that it was Hester who killed Jamie. There are some people on the beach and they hear Melissa and Hester arguing about her taking the little girl. Then Melissa realises that Amber has wandered off, and a cry alerts her that she has followed Bertie to the cliff edge and she is about to fall. Melissa runs to her, and thankfully, she manages to save the girl.

Hester is terrified as she thinks that Bertie has fallen to his death, but a policeman has rescued him. Apparently, the people on the beach have called the police, so Hester is taken to the police station to answer the accusations of child abduction. Yet, before she is taken away, she claims she has a murder to report. Then as I suspected, Hester has another secret. She actually murdered her husband, and this is the murder that she wants to tell the police about. Since she knows she will be sent to jail for child abduction, she thinks she could come out with the truth. What she never tells is about Melissa and Jamie, and I guess that in some way she has forgiven her.

The end happens five months after the events in Dorset. Melissa is still going through a rough time. Before she went to Dorset, she confessed to her husband about her past, and we learnt that the death she was sent to jail for was not murder. When she was a teenager and living in a squat, she was in a relationship with someone, but then at a party she saw him kiss someone. She was drunk and had taken Ecstasy, so when she saw her man’s betrayal, she wanted to leave, but as she drove her car, she ran over a man. He didn’t die, but he was in coma for a long time, and lost a leg, and that is why she had to serve time. When she told Mark, he was shocked as he realised he didn’t know his wife, and he even decided to take Tilly and spend some time with his parents. Now after all that happened with Jamie, Melissa is still struggling to come to terms with some other things. When she returned from Devon, she transferred great sums of money to Kerry and Amber, the Down Syndrome charity, and also the charity of the man who she almost killed, and then she tried to commit suicide. Thankfully, Saskia found her. Now Melissa and Mark are going to therapy and little by little she is opening and telling her husband about her past, but she doesn’t know if her marriage will survive. They are selling the house anyway, but she is depressed. Then she thinks nobody is going to miss her if she disappeared right now, so she decides to pack her things, but then she gets a text from Mark with a message of hope and love. I think that means that Melissa and Mark have a happy ending.

Hester doesn’t have an unhappy ending either. She is serving a life sentence, but she feels happy in jail. Her loneliness, which I think was her main problem, is gone, and now she feels needed by all the women she meets in jail. She is seen as a mother figure, so her desires to be a mother are in a way fulfilled. She often thinks of Melissa and the pestle hidden in the air vent, which the police could easily find, but now since Melissa is looking after Bertie, I think that has redeemed her. So this crime remains unsolved, and in a way everybody is happy.

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