Summerland 2 (Pages 8-117)

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Now we know more about the core point in the novel and about the characters.

What we learn about the characters is:

Zoe Alistair is a chef and mother to Penny and Hobby. She is a widow as her husband Hobson died of a heart attack when she had been married to him for only six months and was seven months pregnant. Then she moved to Nantucket when she was offered a job. Zoe is considered too carefree a mother, leaving her children alone when they were barely eight or allowing them to wander around the island on their own. Yet, she feels she has been a good mother, raising both children on her own. We also know that Zoe has been having an affair with Jordan Randolph.

Penny Alistair is described as the perfect teenage girl: beautiful, clever, and one of her best assets is her voice. She sings beautifully, and since her teacher discovered her talent, Zoe has tried her best to make the most of her daughter’s brilliant voice, sending her to music classes.

Hobby, Penny’s twin brother, is also a brilliant boy, and in his case he is really talented at sport and very popular, so all the girls would like to date him.

Jake Randolph is Penny’s boyfriend. They have been friends forever, and since they were fourteen, they have been dating.

Demeter Castle has been part of these three teenagers’ lives as she is the daughter of Lynne and Al Castle, who are friends with Zoe Alistair and Jordan Randolph. Yet, Demeter is tolerated rather than liked. She is overweight and has no real friends. The only person who is nice to her is Penny, but Demeter doesn’t know if Penny lets her hang out with her because she feels pity for her or for some other reason.

Jordan Randolph is the owner of the local newspaper and is Zoe’s lover. His wife Ava has been a recluse since they lost their baby Ernie a few years ago. Since then, Ava stays most of the time in Ernie’s nursery watching soap operas and reading Moby Dick. The only person who sometimes talks to her and enjoys her company is Penny, who admitted to her boyfriend that she likes his mother. Through Jordan’s memories we get the backstory of his and Ava’s love story. Ava is Australian and was on Nantucket for the summer. Jordan flirted with her and fell in love, but Ava was determined to go back to Australia, her home. She did, but Jordan kept writing to her and one day he turned up in Perth, and he even asked her father for her hand. However, Ava turned down his proposal as she wanted to keep living in Australia, but then one day when he was back on Nantucket, she turned up and they have been together since then. Yet, now Ava is not the person Jordan fell in love with, and Zoe stepped forward to fill the gap that Ava had left in Jordan’s life.

The event that triggers the developments in the novel is Penny Alistair dying. She died when she crashed her boyfriend’s jeep, going over a gorge and hitting the beach below. Penny was driving as she was the only one who had not drunk that night, and in the jeep there was also her boyfriend Jake Randolph, her twin brother Hobby, and another friend Demeter Castle. In the accident Penny broke her neck and died, and her brother broke sixteen bones and had head damage, which resulted in him being in a coma for days.

The night of the accident something happened that made Penny upset as she was driving. We know that Demeter is hiding something. I think she told Penny something that made him upset. When she was driving, Penny was sobbing, and Jake suspects that maybe Penny learnt something that happened between him and another girl. I don’t know, but my guess is that maybe Demeter told her about Jordan and her mother, and that was what upset her. We don’t know if Demeter knew about the affair, but maybe she saw them or something.

The night when Zoe learnt her daughter is dead, her friends Lynne and Al Castle, and Jordan Randolph are there, and when they try to comfort her, Zoe responds by slapping Jordan. Then she has to fly to Boston as her son is there, and Al goes with her, and then another woman takes over. After a few days Hobby finally comes to, and they return to Nantucket to bury Penny although Hobby has to stay in the local hospital for a while longer.

Jordan finally manages to talk to Zoe. She tells him that everything is over between them as she has realised that she was alone with her children all along. Jordan begs her and even tells her he will leave Ava, but there is nothing he can do to convince her. Then Jordan comes up with an idea which he thinks will be beneficial for him, Jake, and Ava. They will travel to Australia and live there for a year, which is what Ava has kept asking him for years, and as soon as Ava is there, she is better, and Jake feels that he is seeing another woman, the mother he wanted her to be.

I am really intrigued. I wonder what happened that night that made Penny so upset. And will Jordan and his family return to Nantucket? I don’t really like the idea of Jordan having an affair with Zoe. In his memories Ava sounds lovely, and it is clear that she is a very sensitive woman to be so hurt after her baby’s death. I hope this family can survive this year away and  Jordan and Ava can rebuild their relationship.

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