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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 409

Graham has brought three women together for a weekend skiing trip and is feeling apprehensive about having done so. He is not certain what he feels for his new girlfriend, Carol; he worries that he has spent his life misunderstanding his daughter, Susannah; and he is not sure that he...

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Graham has brought three women together for a weekend skiing trip and is feeling apprehensive about having done so. He is not certain what he feels for his new girlfriend, Carol; he worries that he has spent his life misunderstanding his daughter, Susannah; and he is not sure that he really wants to meet Susannah’s lover, Rose. The athletic Graham easily strides ahead of the group, not realizing that each of the women who follows is privately dealing with apprehensions of her own. Carol worries that Graham might be interested in her only because she is beautiful, Susannah is painfully aware of how overweight she must appear in Carol’s presence, and awkward Rose seems terrified of everything.

Just when they need cheering up, Graham happens on a lovely open glade, the perfect place for lunch. He has thoughtfully packed a buffet of fried chicken and wine, and the group basks in brilliant sunshine, good food, and the enjoyment of friendly small talk. They feel forgiving of one another’s faults and are greatly refreshed when they pack to leave.

Not far down the trail, however, each person is again struck with misgivings of a different sort. Graham worries that he might not have been a good father to Susannah; Carol has a headache from the wine and feels lonely; Susannah is worried about Rose’s fragile health and about how difficult she herself has been toward her father; and Rose feels helpless, weak, and miserably cold. When they return to their rented house in Alpine Meadows, they are all greatly relieved to take off their skis and get into their baths.

After resting, Graham goes to the kitchen to prepare a hearty dinner. The three women at first converse amiably in the living room. The gentle voices turn strident, though, as each woman, in anger, confesses a painful secret from her past that she did not intend to reveal. Although they strive to be strong and not to elicit pity from one another, their automatic sympathy forges a bond, and Graham feels a new understanding and tenderness for each woman.

After Graham’s good dinner and a short time relaxing in front of the fire, the two couples retire to their separate bedrooms. A storm arises during the night, which abruptly awakens Rose and terrifies her. As soon as she gains her bearings and discovers Susannah lying in bed next to her, she is comforted and relieved.

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