RATING: VERY GOOD
I knew there was something fishy going on with Gladys. Melanie feels it too, and then she goes to see her in her dressing room. Gladys is indisposed, and for some reason Melanie guesses that she is pregnant. Then the truth comes out. The baby is James’s, and Gladys admits that while James was with Melanie, he was also with Gladys. When he deserted Melanie, he was gone for a while, but then he returned to Gladys. Now when Gladys told him that she was pregnant, he bunked off. Gladys’s coldness towards Melanie all this time was caused by her idea that Melanie had returned to New York to find James. Now after he is gone, Gladys becomes hysterical and accuses Melanie of knowing where James is and taking revenge on Gladys.
Later in the week Gladys sends her a message, apologising and inviting her to dinner. They talk, and Gladys tells her about her desperation. She has been offered a leading role in the new play in which Melanie is supposed to have her first speaking part. Melanie is torn between feeling sorry for her and angry. She also thinks that if Gladys were unable to be in the play, the whole thing might be cancelled and Melanie would lose this opportunity.
When a few days later Melanie finds Gladys as sick as a dog, she realises that the woman has been taking some poison, trying to get rid of the child. Then she makes a decision and tells Gladys about her father. Melanie calls her dad, and Horace comes to New York. I love the conversations between Melanie and her father while he stays in New York; I think Melanie needed to hear her father say he loves her despite what happened when she had run away to New York the first time.
The part about the abortion is quite crude and terrible. Melanie has to assist her father. Horace tells her about the reasons why he has performed abortions to women, and Melanie reflects upon the rights and wrongs of what her father has done for years. I can’t say I agree with all the reasons, but it is true that most of the laws that were passed in history never considered women as important beings.
After Horace goes home and Gladys is on the mend, Melanie gets the shock of finding James waiting for her. By that time I think Melanie has gone over him, and she has other prospects with Dave, the stage manager, who is a lovely guy. When James appears, despite what he did to Melanie months ago, she agrees to go out with him to dinner and dance. Then he comes up with the reason why she has sought her out. He is in the middle of one of his scams, this time involving the cinema industry, and he is passing himself off as a producer, so he needs some fake photographs and documents so that he can get into the industry. Melanie is shocked and furious, and she finally gives him a piece of her mind, telling her how he stole her money and broke her heart. She even tells him about Gladys, the baby, and the abortion. She ends the moment by pouring the contents of her place in his lap. And one detail that shows that James is history is when Melanie puts the shirt which he had left behind in the bin.
The ending is quite lovely. Melanie goes to rehearsal for the play, and Dave is there in the theatre. They retreat to a secluded spot, and they kiss. What Melanie asks him is that they need to go slow, because she doesn’t want to suffer again. At the end of the novel it shows how much she has grown and how she has found her way in the world.