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Darling Girls

Recap, Summary & Spoilers

The Full Book Recap and Chapter-by-Chapter Summary for Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth are below.

Quick(-ish) Recap

Four-paragraph version: Jessica, Norah and Alicia are foster sisters who are contacted by about an investigation into human remains found at their childhood foster home, Wild Meadows. As children, they were under the care of Miss Holly Fairchild, who was temperamental and unpredictable, often doling out brutal punishments. As adults, Jessica is addicted to benzos (pills), Norah has violent tendencies and is being extorted by a man she punched and Alicia struggles with forming healthy relationships.

As the investigation progresses, the police confront them about Amy, a baby sister they neglected to mention. The women say that as kids they reported Holly's mistreatment of Amy, a baby she once planned to adopt, to authorities. But when the police went to check, there was no sign of Amy and the girls were told they made her up. Meanwhile, the book is interspersed with Holly's own account of her equally brutal childhood at Wild Meadows, where she was impregnated by her stepfather at 15, and the baby was also named Amy ("original Amy").

In present day, it's determined that the human remains belong to the original Amy, who was taken away from Holly by her abusive stepfather. She was told the baby was given to a good family, but now she realizes he must've killed the baby. The Amy the girls once knew ("replacement Amy") is now a woman named Zara. It's revealed that Holly obtained replacement Amy illegally, and Jessica tipped off Holly about them reporting her to authorities in hopes of winning her love. So Holly erased any signs of Amy and gave her away which is why the police thought they made Amy up. In present day, Holly is arrested for lying to the police and illegally obtaining a child.

In the end, it's revealed that Holly made up the story about getting pregnant by her stepfather. Original Amy was the child of Holly's mother and stepfather, who never abused her. Instead, Holly was the one who killed original Amy out of jealousy over the attention and love Amy got. In the final chapters, Jessica goes to rehab, Norah starts dating a guy they once knew, and Alicia is in therapy and becomes a couple with the woman she loves and they adopt two children.

Chapters 1 - 15

Jessica, Norah and Alicia are foster sisters who are contacted by Detective Patel about an investigation into Wild Meadows, the childhood foster home where they met 25 years ago. They're told that human remains have been discovered there and they are asked to come to a town nearby, Port Agatha, to talk to the police.

Jessica runs a successful home-organization business and Alicia is a social worker. Norah has continued to be troubled and has a colorful criminal record of assaults. She charges people to take aptitude tests online on their behalf as part of job application processes.

In a series of flashbacks, the book reveals that Jessica ended up at Wild Meadows under the care of Miss Holly Fairchild after her mother, a seamstress and Chinese immigrant, killed herself. Jessica was four when she arrived. Miss Fairchild is loving towards her at first, but isolates Jessica and punishes her severely when she does things Miss Fairchild doesn't like. Jessica remains desperate for Miss Fairchild's love.

Despite living in a beautiful farmhouse, money is tight, there is rarely enough food, and Miss Fairchild eventually ends up taking on another foster child, Norah, for additional income. Miss Fairchild becomes increasingly temperamental and unpredictable after Norah shows up. Norah's mother died of a drug overdose and this is her seventh foster placement. Norah, 10, is very pretty, but has been sexually abused and otherwise violated at many of her previous foster homes, and she has a history of violence.

Soon after, when Jessica is 13 and Norah is 11, Alicia, 12, arrives as well. Alicia has grown up with her loving grandmother who is in the hospital and is only meant to be there temporarily initially. However, her grandmother passes away. Miss Fairchild dislikes Alicia immediately and is cruel towards her.

Chapters 16 - 23

Meanwhile, the book is interspersed with meetings between Holly Fairchild and her therapist, Dr. Warren. They discuss Holly's own upbringing. She grew up on the farm, but things changed when her father had a heart attack. Her mother fell apart and into a depression and stopped paying their bills. John, the local church accountant, eventually comes over to try to help her mother sort out her finances. He is rigid and strict and unkind towards Holly, but he's able to help them. Her mother's depression lifts and she agrees to marry John, but her mother starts repeating what John says about Holly being an ungrateful brat.

In present day, the three sisters go to Port Agatha and meet with the police.

In a series of flashbacks, the women remember how Miss Fairchild had gotten increasingly irrational and cruel as time went by and drank at night. After the girls are caught asking someone at the stables to take them riding, Miss Fairchild punishes Norah for it, locking her in the basement for hours in the dark because Norah fears the dark. Norah gets increasingly violent and hostile after that and Miss Fairchild ramps up the basement punishments.

Miss Fairchild eventually signs up to do short term care for infants, but she likes the infants initially and then quickly becomes disenchanted with them, pawning them off on the girls to take care of until the case worker comes to pick them up again.

In present day, the three sisters meet three of the "babies" they once cared for -- Rhiannon, Zara and Bianca -- when they go to visit the demolished remnants of Wild Meadows. They go out for a drink and also meet Ishir who used to work at the grocery store nearby and once gave Norah a chocolate bar.

Chapters 24 - 43

In a flashback, it's shown that one day Miss Fairchild comes home with baby Amy, who she says she is going to adopt. She pours her love into Amy and cares for her, determined to bond with the infant. However, Amy eventually comes to prefer the company of the three girls. Miss Fairchild tries harder at first, but eventually becomes harsher and even violent towards baby Amy.

The girls decide they need to find a way to protect Amy and eventually agree to tell their school principal what's going on at home. The police are brought in. The police check out the situation, but they return and say that there's no trace of baby Amy. The girls struggle to prove that Amy exists. They say that the stablehand, Dirk, can vouch for Amy's existence, but he denies seeing anything.

In present day, the women are all dealing with complications in their personal lives. Jessica is addicted to pills (benzos) and has been stealing pills from her clients' homes. Norah is being extorted by a man she assaulted, who says that he's going to the police unless she films herself doing sexually explicit acts for him. And Alicia is in love with her friend Meera, but is afraid of trying to be in stable relationship.

Chapters 44 - 55

It's soon revealed that Holly obtained Amy illegally. When the girls decided to report Holly because of abusive treatment of Amy, Jessica tipped off Holly about them reporting her to authorities in hopes of winning her love. So Holly erased any signs of Amy and gave her away which is why the police thought they made Amy up.

Between stress about being accused of stealing pills and the idea that she could be part of the reason Amy ended up dying, Jessica overdoses on pills and ends up in the hospital.

The meetings between Holly and her therapist then show that at 15, Holly got pregnant by her stepfather John who had been sexually assaulting her. He kept her locked in the basement during the pregnancy and she had the baby, who was named Amy ("original Amy"). She loved Amy. Six weeks after Amy is born, John comes down to drunkenly sexually assault her, but he doesn't latch the door properly. Holly takes Amy and leaves, with her mom giving her some money on the way out, but she doesn't even make it to the end of the driveway. John drives up with her mother, whose eye is bruised. He stops her, hits her, and they take the money and baby and turn around.

In present day, the forensics report comes back and the women learn the baby died over 25 years ago, so it's not the baby they knew as Amy ("replacement Amy"). Instead, Zara is there and realizes that she's Amy because Amy had six toes. Instead, the human remains belong to the baby that Holly had before that, the original Amy.

Chapters 56 - 60

In the end, it's revealed that Holly made up the story about getting pregnant by her stepfather. Original Amy was the child of Holly's mother and stepfather, who never abused her. Instead, Holly was the one who killed original Amy out of jealousy over the attention and love Amy got. In the final chapters, Jessica goes to rehab and Norah starts dating Ishir. Alicia is in therapy and she and Meera adopt two children that Alicia had been working with, Aaron and baby Theo.

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Chapter-by-Chapter Summary

Chapters 1 – 3

Dr. Warren, a psychiatrist, asks a patient about her experience at Wild Meadows Farms, her childhood home that was in the headlines due to the horrors that happened there. She declines, saying she’s not ready yet.

Jessica Lovat, who owns a successful home-organization business, has just completed a “Room Overhaul” at the home of Debbie Montgomery-Squires. Debbie thinks a bottle of pills are missing, which has caused her to run late to her next appointment since

She then gets a call from Detective Ashleigh Patel, which she assumes is about her sister Norah Anderson. Norah has a history of assaults and getting into trouble. Jessica has had to bail her out countless times.

However, Detective Patel says she’s investigating Wild Meadows Farms in Port Agatha, where Jessica lived when it was a foster home in the 1990s. It was recently demolished to build a McDonalds.

Norah is on a bad date with a guy named Kevin. Norah uses dating and sex as a way to get guys to do stuff around the house for free, and her therapist, Neil, tells her she has a dysfunctional attitude towards sex. To make money, Norah completes online IQ and psychometric tests on behalf of people who are applying for jobs.

Their date is interrupted when Norah gets a call from Detective Patel regarding the Wild Meadows Farms investigation. Just the mention of that place sends Norah into a mental tailspin and she punches Kevin for no particular reason.

Alicia Connelly, a social worker, has just placed two-and-a-half-year-old Theo at his new foster home with Trish. He was found in the road by a neighbor last night after his drunk father didn’t realize he’d gotten out. His mother’s whereabouts were unknown. Theo had spent a few months with Trish earlier that year as well. Aaron, one of the other foster kids there, bets her ten bucks he can feed Theo and wins.

Alicia soon gets a call from Detective Patel as well. He explains how they’re investigating the human remains they discovered at Wild Meadows Farms when it was demolished. Alicia thinks back to her experiences there 25 years ago.

Chapters 4 – 6

Norah and Alicia soon show up at Jessica’s home after getting the call from Detective Patel, who is asking them all to go to Port Agatha tomorrow. Jessica’s husband Phil, a greenskeeper at the golf club, arrives home while they talk.

The women worry that they’re going to ask them about their childhoods and arrive at the same conclusion that other people did last time they talked about it — that they’re crazy.

Before Wild Meadows, Jessica has a vague memory of living in a studio apartment above a shop that her mother, a Chinese immigrant, ran as a seamstress. She has faint memories of her father. Jessica recalls being told that her mother had been very sad and died because of it. Without other family, Jessica was sent to Wild Meadows, a lovely farmhouse with a pool and horses.

Miss Holly Fairchild ran Wild Meadows, and she offered Jessica plenty of love and attention. She called Jessica her “darling girl”, and Jessica was devoted to her. She had a princess-themed 5th birthday party. When Jessica asked if she could call her “Mummy”, Miss Fairchild said yes and Jessica was delighted.

When Jessica had to start school, she cried having to leave Miss Fairchild and continued to be upset until her teacher, Miss Ramirez, asked her to organize some colored pencils. Jessica ends up making a friend, Bonnie.

Later, Miss Fairchild is quiet when Jessica tells her that she had a good day at school. Miss Fairchild gives Jessica a swimming lesson that day, and when the floatie she’s given doesn’t work, Miss Fairchild tells Jessica it’s a lesson that the only thing she can rely on is her mummy. In the next few months, Miss Fairchild isolates Jessica from other people apart from her going to school. Miss Fairchild becomes her whole world.

There’s a lot of cleaning to done at Wild Meadows and Jessica is happy to help. By the time she’s eight, she’s able to do all the chores and it gives her a sense of purpose. Meanwhile, Miss Fairchild explains to Jessica that they’re on a tight budget and have to frugal to keep the place looking like they have more money than they do.

By the time Jessica is ten, money is becoming more of an issue, so Miss Fairchild sometimes slips out at night to “balance the books” and doesn’t return for the night. One day, Scott Michaels, Jessica’s social worker comes to visit, saying that there’s another girl who needs a placement. Miss Fairchild readily says yes, knowing she needs to money. Scott warns them that the girl is troubled.

Chapters 7 – 9

Mr. Warren talks to his patient, who describes her early life as an only child who saw her father as her hero. She grew up in the country on a farm. Then, her father had a heart attack and died. Her mother became depressed and stopped paying the bills or doing chores. Their neighbors and community tried to help, but she sent people away.

In present day, Norah convinces Jessica to go to Port Agatha tomorrow to speak with the detective. Kevin texts Norah about punching him, and Norah responds offering to pay the medical costs. When he’s unsatisfied, she sends him a picture of her breasts and asks him not to tell the police. He seems fine with it, and Norah thinks about how she gets away with stuff because she’s very attractive.

Norah recalls showing up to Wild Meadows. She was ten, and it was her 7th placement. In her previous place, there was a boy who liked to crawl into her bed at night. When she arrives, Miss Fairchild comments on how pretty Norah is. She tells Norah that she’s safe here and they all pitch in with the cleaning.

Miss Fairchild sets an 8 o’clock bedtime and says that she and Jessica will move into the bedroom opposite hers. Jessica is upset since she’s been sleeping with Miss Fairchild until now, but Miss Fairchild says she can’t do that forever. Miss Fairchild also tells Jessica to stop calling her mummy and to call her Miss Fairchild instead. She tells her harshly that it’s not just the two of them anymore.

That night, Norah hesitates going to bed because it’s completely dark which scares her, and she tells Miss Fairchild. Miss Fairchild kindly brings in a lamp. Jessica tells Norah that it’s a mistake to tell Miss Fairchild what scares her.

Norah gets settled into Wild Meadows by trying to pay close attention and get the lay of the land. She sees that Miss Fairchild is frugal and spends a lot of time cleaning. There’s never enough food. Norah notices that Miss Fairchild likes her, but she’s skeptical of adults who take too much of an interest in her. Miss Fairchild is also unpredictable, lashing out at times. Norah knows she’s very smart and she enjoys school, she sees that Jessica is very smart as well.

Even though she finds Jessica annoying, when a larger girl at school, Sandra, tries to bully Jessica, Norah stands up for her. Norah tells Sandra that if she wants Jessica to do her homework, she needs to pay up in food. When Norah and Jessica start getting along, Norah notices that Miss Fairchild doesn’t seem happy about it. She lashes out when Jessica doesn’t put away the laundry even though that’s Norah’s task.

Still, when Scott comes to visit, Norah tells him things are fine. And she overheads him offer Miss Fairchild another child to take care of short term, Alicia. Norah notes that she seems to hate Alicia immediately.

Chapter 10

In present day, the three women debate how much to tell the police. They don’t want to become suspects, and Jessica worries about Norah’s criminal record. The debate bringing a lawyer, but Alicia thinks it would give off the wrong vibe.

That night, Alicia gets a call from Aaron giving her an update on Theo, who he’s been helping out with, and asking for some help locating scholarships for college. Alicia happily agrees to help. She asks Aaron about how he ended up in foster care. Aaron says that his grandmother Doris raised him until three years ago when she went into a nursing home. His father isn’t in the picture, and his mother has mental and physical disabilities.

Alicia considers going to see her friend Meera, who is a child protection lawyer. She thinks back to the night Meera had kissed her. Alicia was used to bad relationships with toxic partners and didn’t know what to do with someone like Meera, so she shut it down. As she drives, Alicia debates just driving into the river, but she knows she couldn’t do it to her sisters.

Chapters 11 – 12

Alicia thinks back to her arrival at Wild Meadows. Her grandmother had a fall and was in a the hospital, so Alicia was being sent to foster care for the time being. Her case worker, Sandi, drops her off with Miss Fairchild. The girls immediately set about cleaning, with Norah showing Alicia what to do since she isn’t used to doing chores.

Alicia can tell that Norah and Jessica are cautious when it comes to Miss Fairchild. When Alicia asks for more food at dinner, she is brusquely shut down. That night, Alicia cries in the bathroom, and she hopes to go home soon.

It’s a 45-minute walk to school the next morning. At school, they’re all in a composite class despite being different ages. By now, Jessica is 13, Alicia is 12 and a half and Norah is 11. Alicia notes that they don’t sit together at lunch. After school, Alicia wonders why her grandmother hasn’t called yet. That night the girls give Alicia a bag of snacks, and Alicia tells them jokes.

A week later, Alicia has continued to go hungry, and her grandmother still hasn’t called. One night, Alicia sneaks downstairs and eats the contents of an entire box of cereal. The next morning Miss Fairchild sees the mess and Alicia admits to what she’s done, saying she just tipped the box back into her mouth. Miss Fairchild says Alicia is disgusting and if she isn’t going to bother with tableware, then she can just eat off the floor, as she spills her breakfast onto the ground.

Chapter 13

In present day, Jessica fears going back to Port Agatha and the memories she associates with it. Her last client Debbie has left a message saying that she’s sure the Valium pills are still missing and that she’s spoken to someone else who says they also had pills missing after utilizing her service. Debbie threatens to call the police.

Jessica first started taking Valium to deal with her panic attacks, but she finds that the pills make everything easier in general. However, her doctor was reluctant to prescribe more. She’s been taking some from clients instead. She thinks to herself that she could use one now. She takes one, and goes to bed.

Chapter 14

Dr. Warren picks back up with his patient, who turns out to be Holly Fairchild, about her mom falling on hard times after her father’s death and the church ladies coming to help out. The parish accountant, John, come to help them sort out their financial situation. He tells her mom that she should be helping more around the house. She and her mom also start going to church because the church had helped them out financially. As her mom listens to John more, it feels like she’s lost both her mom and her dad.

The three women head out to make the two-hour drive to Port Agatha. Jessica is driving in her new car, and she balks when Norah wants to bring her dogs, but Norah pleads with her and she caves. Jessica get a call from Sonja, who manages her business, about the missing pills. Sonja recommends that Jessica get back to Debbie since she seems like the litigious type but recommends that she run it by legal first.

Chapter 15

Jessica thinks back to a night when Miss Fairchild had gone off to a community meeting and the three of them were home alone. The doorbell rang, and a deliveryman, Logan, had a package for Miss Fairchild. The girls try to sign for it, but Logan says he knows what Miss Fairchild looks like and refuses to hand it off to them.

Chapter 16 – 17

As they near Port Agatha, Alicia talks to Trish saying that Theo’s parents are giving up their rights, and she wants to know if Trish would be interested in adopting, but Trish declines. Norah suggests that Alicia should adopt him instead, but Alicia doesn’t think she’s well-equipped to be raising a child.

When they arrive, they’re met by three detectives — Detective Patel as well as Detective Tucker and Detective Hando. They’re from the homicide squad in Melbourne but have been sent here to assist in the investigation. They want to interview the women separately.

Alicia is paired off with Detective Tucker, an older man in his fifties. Alicia explains that she was only supposed to be at Wild Meadows temporarily, but her grandma passed away at the hospital. And she says that Holly Fairchild was a monster.

In a flashback, Alicia recalls Norah’s 12th birthday, though they weren’t entirely sure what day it was supposed to be on since Norah’s birthdays were never celebrated. Alicia suggests they have a silent dance party to celebrate.

The next day, Sandi shows up to tell Alicia that her grandmother had pneumonia and passed away this morning. Sandi explains that Miss Fairchild has offered to keep Alicia here indefinitely. Later, Alicia thinks about whether she should ask Sandi for a different placement, but Norah says there’s worse places than here. She says here they at least have each other. That day, the three of them pinky promise to be like sisters.

Chapters 18 – 19

In present day, Norah talks with Detective Hando. Norah explains that her mother was a drug addict, so she was sent into the foster care system. Norah thinks about how life with her mother hadn’t been that bad. It wasn’t until her mother overdosed that Norah had to be sent away. Norah tells Detective Hando that Miss Fairchild had a way of finding ways to hurt people that didn’t necessarily include physical violence.

In a flashback, Jessica recalls watching TV with Norah and Alicia. By now, it’s been four months since Alicia’s grandmother passed away. Alicia suggests that they ride horses instead, though Jessica is afraid of doing anything that might make Miss Fairchild angry. Alicia goes to talk to the guy who works at the stables nearby, Dirk, and asks if they can ride. Dirk agrees and teaches them how to get on the horses.

Afterwards, they ask him not to mention anything to Miss Fairchild, and Dirk agrees that his boss might not like it either that he let them ride. When they return to the house, Miss Fairchild is waiting for them and displeased. Alicia admits that they went horse-riding. Miss Fairchild is furious and says they didn’t have permission from the owner, Sarah, and that she couldn’t afford to lose the income if Sarah decided to move her horses to a different stable.

Miss Fairchild chooses one of the girls at random to punish, and she picks Norah. She takes Norah into the pitch-black basement and shoves her in there, knowing that Norah fears the dark. Norah cries and pounds against the door. Alicia and Jessica talk to her from the other side to calm her down for hours until Miss Fairchild agrees to let her out.

Chapter 20

In present day, Jessica talks to Detective Patel, who asks Jessica if she was tempted to hurt Miss Fairchild back. Jessica responds honestly that she only ever wanted to love her. Detective Patel asks about Norah’s assaults, and Jessica admits that Norah has anger issues, but says that she’s harmless.

Four hours later, Jessica gets a break, but they find out that the Detectives want to continue interviewing them the next day. On her phone, Jessica has a voicemail from Tina Valand, who had recommended Jessica to Debbie. Tina is upset about the pill situation and says that she thought her pills were missing as well. Jessica feels stressed about about work and having to make arrangement and finds herself going for her pills.

Chapters 21 – 22

Dr. Warren meets with Holly again. Holly says that with her mother wrapped up in her new church lifestyle, she had to go make new friends, and ended up hanging out with the types of kids that hang out in detention. Her mother soon announces that she and John are getting married. She says that he’s the one who got their finances on track and pulled her out of depression, even if he’s a little strict and formal.

When Holly protests, her mother says that John is right that she’s an ungrateful brat.

In present day, Jessica finds them accommodations for the night at Driftwood Cottages. Norah has been texting with Kevin, who is now suggesting that he thinks he should tell the police about the assault unless Norah wants to send him a nude. She sends him a photo flicking him off instead.

They go out walking the dogs and end up where Wild Meadows used to be. The officers there ask them to stay outside the perimeter and inform them that there’s some other women there who were also foster kids there. They realize they must’ve been the babies that were there when they were kids.

In a flashback, Jessica recalls the days after the horseback riding incident. Norah had gotten angrier after the basement episode. More violent outbursts, meant more time in the basement, which resulted in Norah becoming even angrier. Eventually, Alicia gets the idea to hide a torch there so Norah won’t be in the dark. Still, Miss Fairchild always seemed to come up with more ways to hurt them.

One day, Miss Fairchild comes home with a baby named Rhiannon, since she’s offered to take in infants who need short-term care. Rhiannon cries endlessly while she’s with them. On the fifth night, Jessica offers to take the baby who screams but eventually falls asleep in her arms. Miss Fairchild seems offended in the morning, and she tells Jessica that Rhiannon can be her full-time responsibility then. The other two girls try to help out, but it’s exhausting for them. A week later, Scott comes to pick up the baby.

Two weeks later, Miss Fairchild has brought home another baby, Bianca, and this one has an injury from its stepfather. Bianca is quiet but doesn’t like to be touched, which Miss Fairchild resents. Soon, Miss Fairchild wants nothing to do with this baby either and it becomes the girls’ responsibility as well.

The pattern continues to repeat with more babies coming and Miss Fairchild feeling disenchanted with them. She gets even more critical of the girls and drinks at night. On days when Scott came to pick up the babies, the girls were instructed to clean the house from top to bottom.

Chapter 23

In present day, the women meet the adult “babies” and they all go to the Port Agatha pub for a drink. They introduce themselves to Rhiannon, Bianca and Zara. Rhiannon only ever spent those two weeks in foster care. Zara says this is name her adoptive parents gave her, but she doesn’t know what her name was while in foster care. She says she came here after seeing the newspaper article about the discovery. As for Bianca, she says she had 16 foster care placements in total and she got a call from the cops asking to talk, which is why she’s here.

Rhiannon tells them that she spoke to the police and was told that they were still waiting for forensics for information on who the remains belong to.

Meanwhile, Norah finds the bartender there attractive, though Alicia realizes they know him. Norah remembers that he’s Ishir, who worked at the grocery store when they were kids. Ishir says that his parents own it, along with this bar. Norah recalls how Miss Fairchild would send Norah to the store sometimes to pick up stuff. Norah recalls Ishir giving her a chocolate bar once. She remembers that he never expected anything in return.

In present day, Ishir admits that he gave chocolate to all the pretty girls, though she was the prettiest. He says he’s recently divorced and his dad passed away six months ago, so he came back to help out his mom for a while.

Chapters 24 – 26

Jessica recalls how Miss Fairchild’s behavior became increasingly erratic and irrational. One Monday night, Miss Fairchild has her first late-night rampage, and she bursts into their room drunk, waking them and the baby. The next night, it happens at 2 AM.

The next time, they barricade the door. The next morning, she’s not there.

In present day, the woman are still at the pub what Detective Patel comes to find them. He says that forensics thinks the remains are of a female child, possibly an infant. They’re still needing to do more testing to get more information.

Suddenly, Miss Fairchild walks into the pub.

Dr. Warren meets with Holly as she talks about John moving into their house. He had dealt with their financial troubles by selling off land, and was now obsessive about being frugal. Their meals get smaller. Holly’s mother is up at the crack of dawn cleaning the house to John’s liking. John insists that Holly does the same, but she complains that John doesn’t help. When John hears this, he grabs her by the ear and washes out her mouth with soap.

Holly thinks that Dr. Warren seems excited listening to the various ways that John would punish her. She talks about being locked in the basement for 24 hours until she was willing to say this house was John’s and that she needed to abide by his rules. Holly talks about how she blamed her mother for letting him do it.

In present day, Jessica sees that Miss Fairchild looks fashionable, and she seems unfazed by the presence of her former foster children. Jessica thinks about how Miss Fairchild must’ve gotten a nice payout from the sale of Wild Meadows. Miss Fairchild comes to greet them and tells them that she’s going to be assisting the police in their investigation. Jessica says nothing while Norah and Alicia are hostile to her. Detective Patel interrupts and guides Miss Fairchild away from them.

Chapters 27 – 29

The women are shaken both by learning that the bones are that of a child and by the their interaction with Miss Fairchild. Back at their rental cottages, they get settled in. Alicia gets a call from Aaron, asking about Theo. He wants to know when he turns 18 if he’d be able to apply to be his foster parent. Alicia tells him that in theory it’s possible but becoming a foster parent takes time and most likely Theo would have been placed somewhere by then. She reassures him that if it happens, she’s going to make sure that Theo has the best family possible.

Alicia talks to Meera afterwards and asks about fostering Aaron. Meera says she can’t once he turns 18, but that she could adopt him. Meera offers to look into the details. Before they hang up, Alicia fights back the urge to tell her that she loves her.

Meanwhile, Norah has a message on her phone from the police constable about an assault, and she knows that Kevin has gone to the cops. She knows that this isn’t a good time to deal with this. Not knowing what else to do, Norah takes a nude photo of herself and texts it to Kevin, telling him to drop the charges.

Jessica also gets a message, this one is from another client who has spoken to Debbie and has questions about the missing pills. She shoots off a message to her lawyer and takes two pills and goes to sleep.

The next morning, Jessica is still stressed and the other two notice when she declines to pick up her phone. Norah also gets a message from Kevin, but now he wants a video instead. He tells her the details and it’s clear he wants something intensely pornographic.

They meet with the detectives, who confront the three of them, asking why none of them have mentioned the fourth sister that they had at the house. However, Alicia tells them that if they read the report, they’d know why they didn’t mention her. And Jessica tells them that if they have any further questions, they should talk to her lawyer.

Chapters 31 – 32

In a flashback, Norah thinks back to the day they woke up and Miss Fairchild wasn’t there. However, by that afternoon, Miss Fairchild had returned, and she had a new child with her, Amy, who is nearly two. Miss Fairchild tells them that she’s going to adopt Amy since her parents didn’t want her due to her having an extra toe.

Miss Fairchild tells them that she’ll do all the caring for Amy since she wants them to bond. Norah and Alicia are happy that Miss Fairchild has something to distract her, though Jessica seems less enthused by it, still yearning for Miss Fairchild’s love.

When Amy turns two, Miss Fairchild throws her a birthday party. However, Amy looks miserable. Norah suggests that a pony ride might make her happy, and Norah goes to fetch Bertha from the stables, though she doesn’t belong to Miss Fairchild. Miss Fairchild is relieved when Amy’s face brightens up at the sight of the pony. Dirk, however, soon shows up and tells them to bring Bertha back when they’re done.

Later, the girls are playing with Amy and laughing with her when Miss Fairchild interrupts, scooping Amy up and taking her away for her bath.

For Jessica, Amy’s presence and the love Miss Fairchild has for her reminds her of old wounds and her old desire for love from Miss Fairchild. Meanwhile, Amy seems to prefer Jessica over Miss Fairchild and likes to insist on sleeping with Jessica instead.

Six months into Amy’s arrival, Alicia’s social worker Sandi shows up. Miss Fairchild tells Jessica to take Amy and go clean the basement, and she turns on the light down there. Jessica is confused about what’s going on and finally explores around the basement. She finds a box of old toys including a doll with curly blond hair and the letters “AMY” emblazoned across its chest.

Chapters 33 – 34

In present day, Jessica and her sisters are on a Zoom call with the lawyer Meera found for them, Anna Ross. They get her up to speed and tell her about the doll that Jessica found.

Flashing back again, Jessica recalls how after the discovery of the doll, she told the others and that it was old so it was probably not something that she bought for Amy.

Later, Amy and Alicia are playing happily when Miss Fairchild and wants to step in for Alicia. Amy protests. When Miss Fairchild ignores her, Amy finally takes her Barbie and hits Miss Fairchild with it. Furious, Miss Fairchild slaps Alicia across the face.

After that, Amy strongly prefers to spend time with the thee girls and not Miss Fairchild. Amy continues to tell Miss Fairchild that she doesn’t like her and she tries to throw more dolls at her. Miss Fairchild is lifting Amy up when Amy tries to kick Miss Fairchild in the face, causing her to drop Amy.

Miss Fairchild tells them to leave Amy there. Amy is screaming on the floor, and Miss Fairchild tells her this is the consequences of her actions, and she walks out. Alicia then hurriedly goes to pick up and comfort Amy. Afterwards, the girls are concerned for Amy and they know that she needs their help to protect her.

They start trying to bribe Amy into being nice to Miss Fairchild by giving her chocolates and other incentives. They worry each time they leave for school that when they come back something will have happened.

One day, they see Miss Fairchild in the pool, but they don’t see Amy. Norah dives into the pool to get Amy out, and Miss Fairchild says she was just teaching Amy to swim by nearly letting her drown. They realize that something needs to be done before it’s too late.

Chapter 35

Dr. Warren meets with Holly, who continues her story. She talks about how she suffered at John’s hands and how her mother stood idly by. She started sabotaging her mother in order to get John to get mad at her, like by leaving an iron burn on one of his shirts, which John blamed on her mother. Her mother realized it was Holly doing these things, but she didn’t tell John, probably to show Holly that she had some feeling left for her.

With John’s attention focused on her mom, Holly has a little more freedom. A boy at school, Troy, starts to take an interest in her. She’s 14 at this point, but she and Troy start having sex. When John finds out she has a boyfriend, he’s furious. He forbids her from seeing him, and Holly is heartbroken feeling like she has no one.

In a flashback, after the pool incident, the girls talk about what they should do. They talk about going to the police or a teacher. They go to meet with the principal at school the next day, Mr. O’ Day. They tell him what’s been going on and soon two police officers show up. Sergeant Max Grady and Constable Hart are there to investigate.

One of the officers tells them they’re going to do a welfare check on Amy. They detail out what’s been happening to them, but as they’re recounting the instances they can see that it all sounds like they were being punished or something was an accident. They don’t have any evidence of clear-cut abuse. They talk about being left to take care of the babies in Miss Fairchild’s care and missing school because of it.

Soon, the officer doing the welfare check returns and says there’s no sign of a toddler and that Miss Fairchild is only recorded as having three kids under her care. They have no record of an adoption for a toddler or any indication that Amy exists.

Chapters 36 – 37

In present day, Anna lets them know that Miss Fairchild has reached out to the media with a statement. In it, she implies that her foster children were damaged and could have harmed someone.

The sisters return to the pub for lunch and a drink. The detectives show up there, too. Miss Fairchild does as well. She accuses Norah of being the violent one, which manages to provoke a response from her. Norah grabs her, and they realize she’s fallen into Miss Fairchild’s trap.

Chapters 38 – 40

In a flashback, after they tell their story, the girls are brought to the police station to be questioned. The police are skeptical that Amy even exists. The girls bring up that Scott can attest to Amy being there, but they say that Scott denies any knowledge of a toddler living at Wild Meadows. Norah knows that he’s friends with Miss Fairchild, but doesn’t know why he would lie for her. Then, Norah remembers that Dirk saw Amy, too, and the police agree to go question him.

After they’re questioned, a social worker named Genevieve comes to talk to them. Norah overhears someone say to the officer, Max, that their stories are consistent but not identical and that there was always something off about Miss Fairchild. She also sees that they’ve found the “AMY” doll from the house. Matt asks them if they maybe thought the doll was Amy, but the girls insist that Amy is real.

They then say that Dirk has denied ever seeing a toddler at the house, but that he did see the girls playing with the Amy doll.

In present day, Miss Fairchild has decided to press charges against Norah for grabbing her. The detectives ask them why they never brought up Amy if they thought it was her body. The women say that they did bring up Amy — 25 years ago. They were told that they were crazy. Then they say that if the body is Amy, then the police should know that they were the ones telling the truth.

In a flashback, Jessica recalls how the police didn’t believe them, but were still nice to them because they viewed them as traumatized children. Max tries to triple check Dirk’s story, but he maintains he never saw Amy.

Chapters 41 – 43

In present day, Norah and Ishir play with her dogs, and Ishir’s dog Banjo joins them. Ishir lets her know that he’s interested in her, and Norah finds that she doesn’t hate the feeling.

Shortly after, outside the police station, the three women see Dirk arrive and they go to confront him about lying about seeing Amy, saying that her blood is on his hands. Afterwards, Zara comes up to them on her way to speak to the cops, and asks what’s going on. They explain, and Zara starts to look something up about Dirk.

Back on Zoom with Anna, the three women tell her more of their story — that they left Wild Meadows and were taken to a respite home after their allegations about Amy. No one was willing to take in all three of them, so they were split up after three months.

Anna thinks about how if it turns out it really is Amy’s body, the cops in Port Agatha are going to appear to have been very incompetent 25 years ago which could have a political fallout.

Chapter 44

Dr. Warren meets with Holly, who talks about John taking an interest in her as she got a little older. He starts sexually assaulting her in the basement. When she’s 15, she tells John that she’s pregnant.

Holly initially thinks that he’ll kick her out, but John instead locks her in the basement and tells people she was sent to boarding school. Dr. Warren seems delighted at the idea of the psychological trauma that Holly must’ve suffered.

In present day, Anna talks about how if the remains have six toes then they’ll know they must’ve been telling the truth about Amy. Anna also tells them she knows of a reason why Dirk may have lied about seeing Amy. She says that Dirk is a known sex offender.

Their conversation is interrupted when Sonja calls Alicia, asking to speak to Jessica because she hasn’t been able to reach her. Alicia hands the phone over, Jessica speaks briefly with Sonja, but says that she can’t deal with this right now.

Meera shows up unexpectedly, telling Alicia that it seemed like she could use a friend and an extra lawyer on hand. Meera then kisses Alicia.

Chapters 45 – 49

Meera and Alicia go off on their own, and Jessica is left to stress about what to do about work. Sonja says there’s now half-a-dozen complaints of pills going missing and Debbie is threatening to go to the police and the media.

Jessica then notices the sounds of voices that she recognizes as Dirk and Miss Fairchild outside her cottage. Dirk is saying to Miss Fairchild that he lied to her. Jessica interrupts them, and Dirk quickly leaves. Miss Fairchild tells Jessica that she’s proud of her and Jessica isn’t able to resist when she pulls her into a hug.

Norah heads off to bed and she’s thinking about whether to just make the video that Kevin is asking for. She gets upset thinking about it, and she goes outside to get some air and sees Jessica and Miss Fairchild hugging.

Meera and Alicia are getting intimate when Alicia says that she can’t do this. Before they can talk more, Norah interrupts them saying it’s an emergency.

They both rush towards Jessica and Miss Fairchild to confront her. Norah pushes Miss Fairchild away from her. Norah and Alicia say they’re going to get justice for Amy, but Miss Fairchild tells them it’s not Amy. Norah asks how Miss Fairchild knew to hide Amy away the day they went to report her, and Miss Fairchild tells them that Jessica told her. She always told her everything. Norah is horrified, realizing that Jessica tipped off Miss Fairchild so she could erase any sign of Amy. Jessica starts to cry.

Before she leaves, Miss Fairchild tells them that she’s not a child killer and she wants to know whose remains were buried there as much as they do.

Afterwards, Alicia comforts Jessica, saying that she doesn’t blame her for tipping off Miss Fairchild. She says that Jessica was groomed to please her, and it’s not her fault. Norah looks less forgiving. Jessica says that she won’t forgive herself if it turns out the body is Amy.

Jessica takes quite a few pills that night before going to bed.

Chapter 50

Dr. Warren talks with Holly, and she talks about knowing the her baby was coming soon. Around that time, she also started to notice bruises on her mom. Her mom tells her that the plan is for her to give birth here and to say that the baby is her mom’s. She named her baby Amy and had her, alone in the basement.

In present day, Norah asks Meera for help on dealing with the situation with Kevin. It’s a long talk. Norah has a CCO (Community Corrections Order) so another charge could land her in prison, but Meera hopes that a judge would be lenient given the difficult circumstances she’s under with everything going on.

Afterwards, Meera and Alicia talk, and Meera encourages Alicia to open her heart to accepting kindness from others. They cry and are intimate, but this time Alicia doesn’t push her away.

Later, Alicia goes to check on Jessica knowing that she’s seemed off today. She goes to check on her and sees a bottle of pills and that Jessica’s lips are blue. Alicia tells Norah to call an ambulance.

Chapter 51 – 52

At the hospital, the ER nurse asks about the name on the pill bottle, Ada Rogers, but Alicia and Norah don’t know who that is. The nurse asks if they knew Jessica was abusing Benzodiazepines, and they didn’t. They end up sleeping on the plastic seats in the waiting room waiting to hear news. In the morning, they reach Phil to let him know what happened, and he heads over.

As they wait, Meera shows Norah a headline that Kevin, a primary school vice principal, has quit his job after texts showing that he was trying to extort Norah for pornography had leaked.

Soon, Detective Hando calls, asking them come down to the Coroner’s.

Chapter 53

Dr. Warren talks to Holly, who talks about how much Amy adored her and how addictive her attention was. Her mother comes to visit her a lot in the basement, and Amy enjoys the visits. However, six weeks in, John comes down after he’d been drinking. After he’s done with her, he’s too drunk and he doesn’t latch the door properly.

Holly says that she took the opportunity to take Amy and leave. Her mother sees her as she’s leaving and gives her the money that John keeps in a tin. Dr. Warren comments on her mother’s bravery, but Holly says it was for Amy, not her.

Holly resents that when it was just her, her mother couldn’t be bothered to unlatch the door to let her go, but for Amy her mother was willing to risk everything.

In present day, Norah and Alicia arrive at the police station the same time as the Rhiannon, Zara and Bianca. Miss Fairchild and Dirk are there, too. Dirk blurts out that he lied and he did see Amy back then. Miss Fairchild accuses him of being a sex offender.

Dirk then explains that when he was 18, he hooked up with someone who was 15 that he met at a bar and he didn’t realize that she was underage. Dirk says that as a sex offender he was supposed to stay away from kids, so Miss Fairchild blackmailed him into lying about having seen Amy.

The police then tell them that the forensics report shows that the remains are more than 25 years old, so it couldn’t have been Amy. It also doesn’t have six toes, since the women had mentioned that baby Amy had six toes. Zara then speaks up, noting that she has six toes.

Chapters 54 – 55

Dr. Warren speaks with Holly, who talks about trying to leave home with her baby. She didn’t even get to the end of the driveway when John’s car approached. Her mom was with him and had a swollen eye. He drove up and demanded his money back.

Her mother then took Amy while he took the cash back. Then they got back in the car and turned around, and she never saw Amy again.

In present day, Zara explains that her parents told her she came from a foster home in Port Agatha. As an adult, she asked around and was given the name of Miss Fairchild, but Miss Fairchild was living in Melbourne by then. She tried to reach out, but never got a response.

When she heard the house was sold and saw that a body had been found from the news, she decided to come down to check it out. She then shows them a picture of herself as a baby and the women realize that she’s definitely Amy. Zara says that someone named Scott Michaels facilitated her adoption.

Mrs. Fairchild then starts to cry, saying that her mother lied to her. She was told that Amy (the original Amy, her baby) was sent to live with a good family, but then it means that her baby is probably the one that ended up buried at the house. She asks about the baby’s death, and the police say that the coroner’s report indicates there was trauma at the back of the skull indicating there was a blow to the head.

The detectives then say they want to speak to Miss Fairchild alone and Detective Hando says they’re going to bring Scott Michaels in.

Chapter 56

Dr. Warren talks to Holly about her what happened after leaving the farmhouse. In the morning, she went to find Troy who went back with her to Wild Meadows to get Amy back. However, her mother answered the door and pretended not to know who or what she was talking about. Later, she told Holly that Amy was handed off to some ladies from church and in a good home.

Holly then concludes saying that she thinks she became a foster mother to replace her daughter, but no one was a good replacement and the trauma of it drove her mad. Holly is then returned to her cell and Dr. Warren notes that he’ll see her in court.

In present day, Jessica wakes up groggily in the hospital. Phil is there and he admits he knew something was wrong but was afraid to say anything. The women soon show up in her room and tell her that Zara is Amy and she’s alive amd well.

Chapter 57


Nine months later, it’s been concluded that John caused the death of the original baby Amy. Miss Fairchild was charged with kidnapping the replacement Amy/Zara. She’d also been charged with obstructing justice (for lying to the police and blackmailing Dirk) and was caught trying to flee the country.

Jessica has been in rehab after handing off the reins of her business to Sonja and apologizing for her actions. Miss Fairchild has reached out several times to Jessica asking her to visit, and Jessica has recently decided that she’s strong enough to go. Jessica sits down with Miss Fairchild and keeps in mind all that she’s read about narcissists.

As they talk, Miss Fairchild denies any responsibility for her actions. Jessica then asks her if she was meant to be a replacement for Amy when she took her in. Miss Fairchild says no, but that it was supposed to be a chance to do it right. She says it went smoothly at first and they loved each other. But then Jessica started loving other people as well. Miss Fairchild says that only one who ever only loved her was her baby.

As Miss Fairchild cries for herself, Jessica decides to leave. Miss Fairchild sees that she’s pregnant, and Jessica confirms she’s five months along.

Chapters 58 – 60


Norah is thinking about moving to Port Agatha to be with Ishir. She ended up spending 11 days in prison because of the Kevin thing. Kevin got four months for extortion.

Meanwhile, they get news that they’ve located Zara’s biological parents. They were immigrants, and she was taken away after they left her home one night to take an English course. They were told she’d be given back after they took a parenting class, but she never was. Zara is FaceTiming with them later.

Alicia has been seeing a therapist, Eliza. She and Meera now have custody of Theo, and they’ve adopted Aaron.

Holly feels confident she gave Dr. Warren what she needed for a mental impairment defense. She can tell he loved all the trauma in her story.

Privately, she admits that most of the story wasn’t true. John never sexually assaulted her or brutally punished her. Instead, he stole her mother from her and they had a baby together. Holly hated the attention Amy got. One night, Holly was told to babysit Amy, and instead she threw her against a wall.

They buried Amy to protect Holly.

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