Through Chess’s entries in her journal, we learn more about her story with Michael and Nick. She meets Michael and Nick on the same night when Nick gives a concert with his band. Michael is the first who sees her and he stakes his claim to her at once. Michael is the kind of man Chess has always dreamt of: responsible, mature, ambitious. Yet, when Chess sees Nick perform, she feels an instant attraction, and Nick registers her among the public, and he keeps looking at her. Later she learns that Nick is Michael’s brother, and when he introduces her to him, Michael claims her as his girl, and Chess doesn’t protest. At the end of the night Chess goes with Michael, and to her chagrin Nick goes with Rhonda, her best friend. Nick is the opposite of what Michael is: irresponsible, rough, unable to hold a job, and dependent on his parents’ money. Chess learns that nothing happened between Rhonda and Nick, but Chess starts a relationship with Michael even though she keeps thinking about Nick often.
The next time Chess sees Nick is when Michael takes her to meet his parents. Nick is there as handsome as ever, and when Chess pops to the toilet, she runs into Nick, and without a word he kisses her and she kisses him back. Then he walks away, and that is the last time she sees him that time. We know that Chess and Michael were in a relationship for two years. Did Chess cheat on him at some point with Nick? Why didn’t she break up with Michael sooner if it was Nick who she wanted?
On Tuckernuck Island things are not easy for any of the women. The only one who seems happy to be there is Tate. However, when she sees Barrett giving his whole attention to Chess, she is terribly jealous. She is smitten with Barrett, and even thirteen years later he doesn’t show any interest in her. We learn that Barrett was married, but his wife died, leaving him with two small children. Birdie approaches him to ask him if he could hang out with Chess, explaining why Chess is depressed. Barrett doesn’t promise anything, but we see that he is more interested in Chess than in Tate. Poor Tate! The family knows about the picnic Chess and Barrett had when they were younger, which ended up badly when Chess got sick. Yet, Chess mentions another time when they met. It was the following autumn, and she mentions not behaving well with Barrett. I think this is something that nobody else knows, and I wonder what happened then.
Chess is not happy at all on Tuckernuck Island. She feels terribly guilty and longs for Nick. She has suicidal thoughts, but she feels she is too lazy to do anything. So she lets others, especially her sister, guide her through the day. Tate wants her to talk to her, but so far Chess hasn’t been unable to share her demons.
Birdie isn’t happy on the island either. She misses Hank terribly, and the times she has managed to contact him through the phone, he has been unable to talk to her properly. Once he was with some friends who knew nothing about her and who she knew would disapprove of Hank dating her when his wife was still alive. The other times he was just busy or with his children. Birdie longs for him to tell him he loves and misses him, but their calls have been lukewarm.
India also regrets being on the Island. The reason why she accepted to tag along is that there is a problem at work. One of the artists, Lula Simpson, who was her protegée has left the museum for New York. It is not clear what the problem is, but we gather that India and Lula had some kind of romantic relationship. India knows that Lula is in love with her, and I imagine that the problem is that India was just experimenting with this young woman, but her feelings are not the same as Lula’s. This was her reason to leave because she feared that Lula might accuse of her of misconduct, and Birdie’s proposition was the ideal solution. Now that she is on the island, she feels she won’t last long as every single place reminds her of her husband, and she thinks she won’t stay more than a few days. Yet, the days pass and she is still there.
It is interesting to see how these four women fight their own demons and come together in the end. I am intrigued and curious to know what will happen with Barrett, and these four women.