I finished the book today. I enjoyed parts of it, but I found the key to the plot a bit too convoluted.
Vanessa and Alistair finally become lovers, but I have to say that if I had been her, I would have been put off. Vanessa literally has to get into his bed and almost force him to take her as he has kept turning him down for some sense of honour he has. In the end, he can’t deny what he feels any longer, and they finally get together.
Vanessa’s secret origins are finally discovered. The grave she discovered next to Eva’s really belonged to the baby she had with Johnny. Vanessa gets to know that her father was not Johnny Quinnell, but Bo, Alistair’s godfather. The mystery is completed when she rushes home when Ruth falls down the stairs and gets injured. She discovers that her real mother is Lady Starshurst, Fern’s mother. She used to be an actress, and when Lord Starshurst was in the war, she had an affair with Wilton Bovary and got pregnant. Lord Starshurst arranged for her to have the baby in a nursing home, and then he got Ruth and Johnny Quinnell adopt the child. Since Johnny and Eva had recently lost a baby, they used the dead child’s birth certificate, and that is how Vanessa has the name of a dead little girl when her name was Margaret like her real mother.
Alistair then convinces her that she needs to demand the money from her real father’s trust. Vanessa just wants to save the theatre, and she finally discovers what the key that Eva gave her opens. It is some kind of sewing box that was hidden in a prop in the play. In the box they find evidence of who she is. There is a photograph of Lady Margie with Vanessa and Wilton Bovary, and in the box there is also her real birth certificate, and there are a series of fingerprints from when she was a baby and then when she was five. The revelation doesn’t sit well with Bovary’s sisters and brother-in-law, but the lawyer keeps the certificate, promising to use an expert that will verify the genuineness of the document and the fingerprints.
The epilogue is three years later, and it is the day that Alistair and Vanessa marry, and after the wedding, she goes to the cemetery to place some flowers on Eva’s grave and her baby, and also on both her “fathers”, Johnny and Wilton Bovary. We learn that with the money Vanessa inherited from her real father she and Alistair have remodelled the theatre, and now it shines as if it were brand new.
Apart from the main plot, Fern proves to be as unreliable as we get to see in the novel. When she learns about Vanessa’s real origins, which make her her sister, she haughtily tells her that she shouldn’t go thinking that they are going to be sisters. Is this the same woman who thought Vanessa was her best friend? I know that it is not nice to know that your friend is interested in your husband, but Fern already had a lover, who she planned to marry. So she should be a better person and understand Vanessa and Alistair.
As for the story with Vanessa’s husband, Alistair hears the particulars from Fern. So we learn that the day before he was shot down, Leo came to her furious, disturbed because of the war, and he raped his wife. Vanessa even noticed the smell of another woman on his skin, and the following day she kicked him out, and that is the last time she saw him. That is why she has been so cagey with men and why she felt so guilty when Leo died.
The book was entertaining, but I found that there are too many characters, which made it difficult for me to know who was who. There were characters that didn’t add much to the story, and even Wilton Bovary’s sisters were quite flat characters. And the story about Vanessa’s real origins was too twisty for my taste. Yet, all in all, it was an okay read.