I hated that Isabelle was so closed off that she refused to allow herself to connect with friends, preferring instead to maintain her privacy and superior attitude toward virtually every woman with whom she came in contact, including her daughter. I hated that she didn’t understand the need for friendship, because she felt that her existence, such as it was, was sufficient. She wasn’t happy, and she didn’t see a need to be. She fantasized about her boss, an older, frumpy, married man…this personal secret was more valuable to her than a real, loving relationship.
I hated that, when Isabelle found out about Amy’s improper relationship with her teacher, that she attacked her physically, but it was clear that she couldn’t help it at that moment. I hated that she never apologized. But what was good as a result of this meltdown was that the fault lines in the walls she had erected around her life were irreparable, and she finally was able to accept offers of friendship from the women in her office…kind, decent, ordinary women who reached out with tenderness when Isabelle finally admits her own indiscretions. Better even was her recognition that she had hurt her daughter in a way that until that moment she was unaware of, and her heartfelt remorse for that lead to a shift in their relationship that began to heal it.
What was perhaps my only quibble with the book was that, at the very end, Amy comes to the unfortunate understanding that she had a sexual attraction to older men, that they would pursue her, and that she wanted that. The visual encounter with (what I would call) a potentially pervy man in a diner on the way to visit her family showed me that she had learned nothing except that her obsession with Mr. Robertson would end, and there would be others to replace it. How sad.