I am almost done with the book, and I really love it.
First, Chess finally writes her whole confession. We learn that when Nick returned from a tour with his band, she finally agreed to leave Michael. So when she went out with Rhonda, she met him in a bar, and then when she returned to her apartment, she called Michael to break up with him. She and Nick decided to let matters calm down before they could get together. Then Nick asked her to go with him to Toronto as he was playing there with his band for months. That is why Chess decided to leave her job as she told herself she would start with Nick from scratch. Then Nick told her that he would tell Michael during their climbing trip. When Nick called Chess to tell her about Michael’s death, he explained that he had told her about him and Chess the day before. Michael had been angry, but seemed to have taken it right. Then the following morning Nick woke up to discover that Michael had gone to climb in an area where climbers never went alone. Nick had told his parents that Michael hadn’t been harnessed properly, but the truth is that he hadn’t been harnessed at all. Chess realised that it had been suicide, and she felt it was her fault. I understand her pain, but here the three of them were wrong. Chess should have left Michael long ago, and Nick shouldn’t have stopped her, and Michael was wrong to take his brother’s revelation that way. We got the impression that Michael was dependable and someone stable, but this shows that he was very vulnerable, and killing himself for a woman shows a very strange side.
Tate is in bliss with Barrett, and when she meets his children, she readily jumps into the role of a surrogate mother. However, Tate’s worst enemy is her insecurities and fears. The turning point is when she decides to pack her bag and tell him she is ready to spend the night with him. Yet, Barrett tells her that she can’t come with him that night as he has some work-related thing, and even though Tate asks him, she won’t say a word. Tate gets very upset, and when Barrett fails to turn up the following morning, her mood doesn’t improve. He appears in the afternoon, and he brings along Anita Fullin, the pain-in-the-neck client of his. Anita wants to see the house, and Barrett gives her a tour, but he hardly exchanges a word with Tate.
Tate feels terribly alone, and she is the one who takes the first step towards a reconciliation. That evening she goes to Barrett’s, but things turn from bad to worse. Tate is left to look after the children, showering, giving them dinner and putting them to bed while Barrett is locked in his bedroom, taking a call. Tate is angry, and when Barrett goes to talk to her, he tells her that the call was from Anita. She wants to hire him full-time, which means he will have to leave his other clients. We understand that Anita is a pompous, spoilt woman who always gets what she covets. This offer to Barrett is her way to have her revenge on Tate and her family. Anita wanted to buy Roger, the small statue that India’s husband made for her, and when India refused to sell, Anita didn’t take it well. Tate tells Barrett that he shouldn’t even consider the offer as Anita just wants to use him, but he tells her that Anita has a strong hold on him. His boat was a present from her and his husband, so if he were to refuse the offer, he might have to return the boat. Besides, Anita gave him a lot of money for Barrett’s late wife’s care when she was in hospital or with private nurses. So Barrett owes her a lot of money. Tate and Barrett end up arguing. I understand both their reasons. Barrett has two children to raise, feed and clothe, and he needs the money, and this is his job. Tate is right too about Anita’s bad intentions.
The following day something else weakens Tate’s confidence. That morning Chess wakes up to find her face all swollen. The day before when she went for a walk, she fell into a bush, trying to avoid being run over by a bike. Now she realises that it is poison ivy. When Birdie calls the state of her daughter, she calls Barrett, and he agrees to take Chess to the hospital, where she is given a shot and some cream. Chess and Barrett don’t return to the island straightaway. Barrett suggests they have some lunch, so he buys some sandwiches and eat on the beach. While they eat, Barrett and Chess talk. Chess asks him about Tate, and he confesses that he loves her, but things are not going as well as they should. He also explains about the job, which is causing friction between Tate and him.
On Tuckernuck Tate is upset that Chess and Barrett left for the hospital without her, and it has been hours since they went. When they returned, Barrett and Tate talk. Barrett tells her about him and Chess having lunch and her taking a nap. Jealousy courses throughout Tate’s self, and when she also learns that Barrett also talked to her about the job offer, she fears that Chess has always been Barrett’s first choice and she is a simple substitute. When Barrett tells her that he is going to take Anita’s job, she blurts out that they should stop seeing each other.
When he leaves, Tate already regrets his decision. Then when she comes face to face with her sister, they have a terrible row. Tate tells her she hates her and how she always spoils everything for her. Chess tries to explain that what Barrett and she did was hardly lunch but share some sandwiches, and she just fell asleep on a beach chair. Tate won’t listen, and even thought Chess tries to tell her that Barrett told her that he loves Tate, that only makes Tate angrier as she can’t understand how Barrett told Chess and not herself.
The following days Tate refuses to talk to Chess, and she spends the whole day outside the house. Birdie tries to talk to her, but Tate is also upset with her mother as she overheard her telling India that she thought that what Tate and Barrett had was just a fantasy. As Tate remains alone all day, Chess finishes her confession in her journal, and leaves the notebook on Tate’s bed, but Tate doesn’t read it. Chess misses her sister, and what brings them together finally is when some bats fly into the room, frightening Chess, who starts crying. Tate comes to her rescue, but she is unable to do much, and in the end both Chess and Tate end up laughing. That night Chess reads her journal to Tate, and after she finishes, Chess is surprised when Tate gives her some wise words about Michael and Nick. Chess had always assumed that her sister was illiterate in matters of the heart, but this was just something she had assumed, rather than learnt from reality. I think this is a turning point in both girls’ relationship.
The following day Tate decides to find Barrett, and she goes to Anita Fullin’s house. The woman receives her, and Tate learns that Barrett has walked out on her, and the woman is incensed. She plans to thwart all his chances for a job by calling all his potential clients and telling them what kind of person Barrett is. While in the house, Tate does something to Anita’s computer, but I am not sure what it is.
Tate returns to Tuckernuck without being able to find Barrett. Then when they are getting ready to have dinner, she hears some noise, and Barrett is there. He waves at her, and Tate rushes to his arms and starts kissing him. What Tate didn’t expect is to see her father with Barrett.
Grant’s presence brings us to Birdie’s story. She also gets disappointed in love. When she finally manages to talk to Hank, he tells her that his wife Caroline has died. Now Hank is taking his death badly, and he feels guilty for having been seeing Birdie when Caroline was still alive. So this means that Hank can’t continue seeing her. Birdie is upset, and after she rings off, she calls Grant. He is thoughtful and kind, and then days later he sends her a big bunch of flowers. Grant is proving to be much better than the husband that Birdie lived with for thirty years. And then he turns up on the island, and we know that night they make love even though some chapters before Birdie told herself that she was starting seeing Grant in a new light, and even though they would never be back together, they could be friends. It seems that there is going to be more than friendship between these two.
That night Tate and Barrett are together too. She returned with him to his house, and the children welcomed her with open arms. Then when they alone, he tells her about the three days she worked for Anita. From the first it was clear that Anita wanted more from him that a simple gopher. She explained that she and her husband had separated, and then she tried to shape Barrett into a different person, making her wear her husband’s shirts, and forcing her to accompany her to parties, and she tried to seduce him. The third day was when Grant, Tate’s father, called, requesting to be picked up and taken to the island, and Barrett didn’t hesitate. Now he explains to Tate that after Anita started calling her acquaintances about Barrett, he got five more clients as a countereffect to Anita’s intentions. When Tate mentions, she and her family are leaving in a couple of days, she prays he can ask her to stay, and when he hints that after the jobs she has to see to, she can return to him and the children, Tate is the happiest woman on earth.
As for India, she gets some letters from Lula, and she even replies to one. Lula sends her a painting of her hip with a message, telling her that she could try, implying that they could have a relationship. India is considering this seriously, and in the last chapter we see how she gets rid of her late husband’s glasses as if they were the thing that kept her chained to his memory.
I have enjoyed the book. There are only a bunch of pages left, and I wonder how things will pan out for these four women. And what about Chess? Will she and Nick have a chance to love?