The Long Weekend 4 – The End (Pages 204 – end)



Most of the characters have a happy ending. Let’s start with the minor subplots.

Laura goes to meet Tony Weston, the painter who she thinks is her dad. The clue that she has is a portrait that her mother kept among her personal things. The portrait was made by Tony, and Laura also finds out that he was a teacher in the art school that her mother attended before she got pregnant. Not wanting to give the game away, Laura even uses a different name when she pretends she is interested in a course.

Very nervous, she knocks at the man’s door, and she meets him and his wife, Wendy. When Wendy goes to the market, Laura and Tony start work. After a while, Laura decides she can’t keep up the farce any longer, so she comes and tells him the truth, her suspicions that he is her dad. Then Tony tells him that she is wrong. He did work in the school that Marina attended but just for a few terms, and he doesn’t remember her mother at all. Besides, he is infertile, so he can’t have children. Laura becomes very emotional, and feeling disappointed, she decides to leave.

As Tony sees her go from his window, we learn that he has lied to Laura, and he knows that she is his daughter. In his memories we learn that since the first moment he met Marina, he was mesmerised. He was the arts teacher, and Marina a very determined, uninhibited teenager, who enjoyed teasing and provoking him. After a month or so, they started an affair, and even though Tony knew that it was wrong, he couldn’t help himself. The affair lasted a few months, and he ended it when they were in Paris on a school trip. Wendy was pregnant and he knew he couldn’t leading this double life. Marina got upset, but he couldn’t do much more. Tony ended up leaving the school and moving away with Wendy, but their story wasn’t a happy one. Tony and Wendy lost their little daughter, and from then on she couldn’t have any more children.

This is the reason why Tony lied to Laura because he couldn’t bring himself to tell Wendy that while she had lost their girl, another woman had given birth to a daughter, product of his affair. Tony thinks this is for the best, but that night he can’t sleep, fearing that Laura might tell Marina about her visit and his lies. So the next day he wakes up and goes to talk to Laura, and he finally tells her the truth and the reason for his lies. Tony admits that he would like a relationship with her, but he can’t hurt Wendy, and Laura understands. This is sort of bittersweet, but Laura has her own happy ending. Her boyfriend Dan declares his love for her, and he surprises her by showing her a house that he would like to buy for them. They will move in together in London, but with the money they could save from one of their rented flats, they could pay the mortgage for this house to escape to at weekends, and they can even get some money to rent it out when they don’t need it.

As for Colin, after Karen does a runner, he intends to look after Chelsay, who he feels has been neglected. From Chelsay he learns that her mother lost her job months ago, and she has been working in a club as a prostitute. Colin is horrified that Chelsay could even understand what this means, and he gets upset thinking that the money that he dutifully paid Karen every month must have gone somewhere else other than for his daughter. Chelsay’s clothes make her appear pathetic and sad, and Colin also learns that his child’s diet consisted of junk food and microwavable ready-meals. So he decides to buy the girl new clothes, and from the first moment she starts wearing these new garments, she looks so much better, like a real little girl, and he also tries to cajole her into eating more healthy options.

The problem comes when he has to tell Alison, his wife, the truth. Unable to put it off any longer, he phones her and asks her to come to the hotel. Alison is intrigued but worried, and when Colin tells her, she gets logically upset and walks away. Colin thinks that he should start thinking about living a life without Alison, so he would have to find a new place for him and Chelsay. In the meantime, Alison decides to stay in town as she has had too much drink, so she rents a room in a dodgy B&B, and as she lies in bed that night, she has to admit that this situation is also her fault. Twelve years ago she was struggling, but she didn’t appreciate what Colin was going through, so it was no wonder he found solace in another woman. Alison knows that what happened could be her and Colin’s fault, but not the little girl. So the following morning she goes to see Colin and meet Chelsey. The couple talk and they reach a compromise; Alison wants him back, and they will look after Chelsay together as long as she doesn’t have to meet Karen, ever. So in the end they leave the hotel content, if not happy.

The main characters of the book are clearly Claire and Nick. After Luca’s proposal, Claire intends to talk to him and ask him to wait a bit before announcing their news. Yet, she is late as Luca has prepared a big announcement the next morning. So Nick learns about the engagement, and even though she looks at him desperately, silently begging him to let her explain later, she can’t do that as Luca railroads her as he has plans to spend the day with the Parfitts.

Before Claire leaves with Luca and the Parfitts, Gus, Nick’s friend, comes to talk to her, pleading with her to leave Nick alone. He keeps saying that Nick belongs with Sophie, and this is just a crazy illusion. Claire gets quite upset and angry, and I can’t blame her. Gus was way out of line, meddling in his friend’s matters. I understand that Gus means well, but he never stopped to think whether Nick might be right.

Gus isn’t the only one to throw her off the scent. Trevor Parfitt also makes her decision about Nick more difficult. During their outing, Trevor explains to her why the London hotel is so important for him and Monique. Claire has always thought that the Parfitts were childless, but in reality they have a child, Jamie, who was his mother’s love and pride. Jamie was a good, intelligent boy, but when he hit puberty, he changed and started to hang out with the wrong crowd. And then one day he wasn’t in his room, and they haven’t heard from him since then. Monique is still waiting for his call, and Trevor says that the project of the London hotel is the first time that he has seen his wife so animated since Jamie’s flit. That is why this project is so important.

Poor Claire feels crowded by all these people pressurising her: Luca and his proposal, the hotel, Gus and his belief in Nick and Sophie, and the Parfitts. So in the end she makes a decision and tells Nick that what happened between them was nice, but it is not possible. So Nick leaves the hotel, and Claire tells herself that she will have to make do with what she has now. Yet, things don’t go as she expects. The following day she sends Angelina to wake up Luca, and as Angelina becomes upset and tells Luca about her lust and desire, they end up in bed. When Claire goes to check on them and sees them, she realises she doesn’t even care. Actually, she is more upset by Angelina’s betrayal than Luca’s.

The next thing she does is to talk to Trevor, telling him that she can’t do the London project and wants to sell him and Monique her part of the hotel. Trevor can’t argue and accepts her offer, which turns out to be the right thing to do. He and Monique talk, and the woman tells him that she has decided to let go of Jamie and throws her old mobile into the sea, and later after Claire’s offer, Monique thinks that this is a much better idea as the hotel is already running and it will be easier for her to get involved.

Claire leaves an envelope with her engagement ring for Luca before she takes off. Excited she drives towards Nick’s family home. Gerard opens the door for her, and there is a nice moment between them in which Gerard tells her how grateful he is to her for what he did for them and his wife that Christmas. When Gerard mentions the garden and the wedding, Claire realises that she can’t do this and has to leave. Yet, when she is on her way to the door, Nick appears and tells her that she has broken things off with Sophie as it was not right for him to marry her. His intention was to drive back to Cornwall and have another go to persuade Claire, but she has beaten him to it. So in the end Claire and Nick end up together, which is very romantic but not very realistic in my opinion.

As for Angelina, after her taste of Luca she realises that she doesn’t want anything else from him. It was just lust what she felt, and now that her carnal desires had been satisfied, she doesn’t want any more. Now that Claire is gone, Luca promotes her to acting manageress, and he demands a raise, which she thinks she will use to save money and some time in the future she will be able to afford a place for her and her brother Dill, and they could leave the bleakness of living with their mother.

I loved the book. It was full of interesting plots and characters, and Ms Henry’s writing style makes the stories so alive!!!

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