The Death of Mrs. Westaway Summary & Study Guide

Ruth Ware
This Study Guide consists of approximately 62 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Death of Mrs. Westaway.
This section contains 769 words
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The Death of Mrs. Westaway Summary & Study Guide Description

The Death of Mrs. Westaway Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware.

The following version of the novel was used to create this study guide: Ware, Ruth. The Death of Mrs. Westaway. Gallery/Scout Press, May 29, 2018. Kindle.

In the novel The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, twenty-one-year-old Harriet “Hal” Westaway was struggling to make ends meet when she received notification she had been named as a beneficiary in Mrs. Westaway’s will. Even though Hal knew she was not the granddaughter of this woman, as the letter indicated, Hal decided to take her chances that her identity would not be questioned very closely and see what might happen. What Hal discovered as she became acquainted with the Westaways was both much better, and much worse, than she had ever imagined.

Since Hal’s mother, Maggie, died just before Hal turned 18, Hal had been trying to pay her bill by taking over her mother’s place as a tarot reader on a Brighton Beach pier. Believing she could give herself some financial breathing room, Hal borrowed money from a man who turned out to be a loan shark. Even though she has paid back the loan plus an exorbitant amount of interest, the man is threatening Hal with physical harm unless she pays even more money that he claims she owes.

It is at this point that Hal got a letter from the lawyer, Mr. Treswick, telling Hal that she has been named in her grandmother’s will. Only Hal knew the woman named in the will was not her grandmother. Being so desperate for money, Hal decided to meet the family. She hoped that she would be bequeathed perhaps a few hundred pounds, money that could lighten her financial load, and no one would notice she was an imposter.

Hal’s problems began when Mrs. Westaway’s will was read and she learned she had been bequeathed the entirety of the estate with the exception of some money for the other grandchildren and the housekeeper. She knew that she would never be able to pass the inspection required by such a large bequest but Abel Westaway, one of Mrs. Westaway’s sons, gave Hal a picture of the Westaway siblings that included Hal’s mother. Hal decided to stay with the Westaways longer hoping to learn about her mother’s connection to them.

Hal eventually learned that Maggie, her mother, stayed with the Westaways after the death of her parents. It was during her time at Trepassen that Maggie got pregnant, narrowing the possibilities of the identity of Hal’s father. Maggie had never told Hal who her father was. In fact, she had lied and said he was a one-night stand from whom she had never even gotten a name. In her anger with Maggie and her refusal to tell her the name of the boy who got her pregnant, Mrs. Westaway kept Maggie locked in an attic bedroom, the same one in which Hal stayed while she was at Trepassen. Maud, Mrs. Westaway’s daughter, and Maggie had developed a deep friendship during Maggie’s time at Trepassen. Maud helped Maggie escape from the room in which Mrs. Westaway had imprisoned her and the two ran away to Brighton Beach. A woman who had worked as a maid at Trepassen told Hal she had heard Maggie had returned to Trepassen after her baby was born, but that no one had heard from her or Maud after that.

Suspecting that Hal knew what had really happened, Hal found a photo album in which she discovered that Maud, Mrs. Westaway’s daughter, was the woman who had raised her. Maggie, her biological mother, had blonde hair and blue eyes. Based on what she had learned about the photograph through a copy of Maggie’s diary, Hal determined that Ezra, one of Mrs. Westaway’s sons, was her father. In a confrontation with Ezra, Hal learned that when Maggie had gone back to Trepassen, she had asked Ezra for money to help support the baby. Ezra had killed her in a fit of anger and had hidden her body under a sunken boat in the boathouse.

Because Maggie never returned home, Maud had taken over the role as Hal’s mother. She had lied to Hal about her father hoping to protect her. When Hal was about to turn 18, Maud wrote to her mother that she was going to tell Hal the truth about her parents. Hoping to protect himself, Ezra killed Maud. Knowing that Hal had learned the truth, Ezra tried to kill her too, but fell through the ice on the lake and died.

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