Alice Thomas Ellis has written a book with three sensational women and their men in "The Summer House, A Trilogy". This story is told by three of the women involved from their own perspective. Margaret the young maiden about to be married; Mrs. Munro, the mother-in-law to be; and Lili, the other woman. This book is a masterpiece, subtle but provocative.
Margaret is a young woman about to be married. She lives with her mother, Monica, a woman who was deceived and divorced from Margaret's father, Derek. Monica has lived her life through Margaret since the divorce, and Margaret is shrewd enough to note this. Monica is planning Margaret's wedding as she has planned her entire life. She does not listen nor does she want to understand Margaret. Margaret was sexually abused by her father as a very young child. This has never been spoken about but is the probable cause of Margaret's depressive state. She is too quiet, too good, too boring. Margaret is just back from spending time in Egypt with one of Monica's old school chums, Marie Claire. Margaret was homesick but had time to develop a crush on Marie Claire's son, Nour. That is, until she found Nour with the body of a dead woman. Once back, Margaret became unwittingly engaged to Syl, a contemporary of her mother's. How did this happen? He asked her to marry him, and she did not say no. She is very unhappy with this engagement, and everyone knows something is wrong. Life goes on, Margaret is too unhappy, too depressed to stand up for herself, it is not worth the torment her mother would put her through.
Mrs. Munro is Syl's mother. He loves her, but everyone else thinks she is a sour puss,, and someone to be tolerated. Mrs. Munro lives with Syl and a dog named Dog, The dog is as troublesome as Mrs. Munro is. Syl has made an apartment just for her. She does not like the apartment; she wants her old home back. But she is old and this is also Syl's home. Mrs. Munro had a fairly happy life alone. She was married to Jack, Syl's father. Jack was a womanizer, and Mrs. Munro did not really like him, another tolerated soul. Mrs. Munro does not think that Margaret should marry Syl. She likes Margaret, but she too, understands that something is not quite right. Margaret does not love Syl. This wedding must not go on. One woman likes and understands Mrs. Munro and that is Lili. Lili visits everyday and the two form a friendship of sorts.
Lili is also a school chum of Monica's. She is married to Robert, an artist. They have a marriage of convenience and maybe of love. Each of them has had affairs, which are not discussed. Robert makes Lili feel insecure and that was not a feeling she liked. She was a woman who was always in control and in charge. She was a beautiful woman with red, curly hair,lovely skin and a sense of style. Margaret liked and admired Lili. She would talk in little bits and pieces about her life and what she wanted. Lili listened and she knew she had to act. Someone had to help Margaret out of this mess she found herself in. Margaret wanted to be a nun, which certainly suits her more than a loveless marriage. Lili wanted a life of money and ease and had found neither, but now, someone was counting on her. And, so Lili danced. Dancing is Lili's way of solving problems and a synonym for sex.
This elegant, entertaining book is reassuring in some ways. There are people in the world who understand their position, and are there to assist the downtrodden. This mismatched couple who have nothing in common except a planned wedding. Lili, the woman who will change things in a spectacular fashion! prisrob