Summer at Shell Cottage 3 – The End (Pages 176 – end)

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I read the rest of the book yesterday, and I really loved it. The ending was wonderfully happy, and all the characters learnt their lessons and came up stronger.

Freya finally manages to talk to her husband, Simon, who had no idea she was struggling. She even admits to drinking more than she should, and she promises to go without booze. Then she leaves a voice message to Melanie, the mother of the sick baby who intended to report her. Despite what her boss told her (apologising implied to admitting one’s fault), Freya tells her how sorry she is about what happened to Ava. When Melanie calls back, Freya is scared, but the woman is conciliatory and accepts her apology.

Her brother Robert is finally found out in his lies when a self-publishing company calls and Harriet takes the call. Harriet is shocked and very hurt, and for many days she doesn’t speak to him. Actually, she even considers splitting up for good as she can’t countenance with more lies. I understand that the experience with her first husband has left her vulnerable, but I think Harriet was too harsh. Of course I understand that all the lying has upset her beyond reason, but I think that these shenanigans of Robert were quite pathetic. He showed that he was acting quite childish. How did he think he would get away with it? He apologises to the whole family, and explains that he wanted them to be proud of, since he has always felt like a failure. In the end, Harriet and Robert finally sit to talk, and they finally make up. Robert resolves to change his career as he wants to be a trainer or something sport-like, so he has to retrain and even finds a course to attend to.

In their family there is another element of discord during the novel. Molly, who is fifteen and Harriet’s daughter, has been unhappy about coming to Devon with her family. We know that she had started seeing someone, Ben Jamison, and I assumed it was someone from her class. Then Freya overhears her talking to Ben Jamison on Skipe, and he pressures her into going to see him in a nearby hotel where they can have fun. Molly leaves, intending to see Ben and fully knowing what she is going to do. Freya calls Harriet, but her phone is out of range, so she drives after Molly. So when Molly arrives and is with Ben, who is really uncouth and touchy, Freya surprises them and a few steps behind is Harriet, who got the message. The shock comes when Harriet identifies Ben as Molly’s English teacher!!! :O Harriet and Freya raise an uproar, and Molly feels relieved and embarrassed at the same time because she didn’t really want to do anything with this man. Molly even learns that he is married, and Freya calls the police, who arrest Mr Jamison. This episode brings mother and daughter closer, and it is a nice thing. Harriet and Molly even talk about Simon, Molly’s father, and Robert, and Molly shows how well she knows her father despite Harriet’s efforts to soften the reality for her. Molly knows that Simon only loves himself.

Finally, Olivia is the one who seems to have grown and learn the most in these weeks. I think she has always lived under the shadow of her husband, and once she learnt that Alec wasn’t perfect or deserved to be ‘sanctified’ she was freer. Her friendship with Gloria, the hired cleaner, was great. The two women couldn’t be more different. Whereas Olivia was dignified and all proper, Gloria was loud and care-free. Thanks to Gloria and their friendship, Olivia gets to do things that she never considered doing like skinny dipping. At the end of the weeks in the cottage, she even gets to talk to Katie, her husband’s lover. In the manuscript of Alec’s last book, the plot showed a similar story. A happily-married detective, cheating on his wife with a much younger woman, and the detective showed remorse but couldn’t help himself. At the end of the thriller the detective decided to leave his mistress and start with his wife from scratch. Olivia takes this plot as a reflection of Alec’s real thoughts. She understands that he never stopped loving her despite his affair with Katie. When Olivia talks to Katie, they are civil to each other as Olivia has learnt that what is done is done. Katie tells her that she knew that Alec always loved her more, but she was happy to get whatever he was ready to give her. At the end of this conversation, Olivia magnanimously invites her and her son Leo to the barbecue that they usually have at the end of their summer holidays in the cottage. I have to say that I couldn’t have done something like that. Olivia could well forgive Katie, but having her there at a family party, well, I think that is a bit too much.

I really loved the book. A perfect summer read.


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