So I went to the book's website (just like you did Carly) to see if I could find some answers... and yeah, there was nothing helpful. So I went digging around some other sights to see if others were talking about the book, and I found this site:
I read all 3 pages of comments, and some of them were helpful in figuring what exactly happened. This comment in particular was helpful, so I'm quoting right from the website:
Some random reactions to comments in this thread...
Re: Jack raping Towner - on one level, I saw it as Jack's final closure. He is finally forced to accept that like it or not, it is over, and he has to move on. He is very remorseful, and I don't see what he did as an act of aggression, but more of desperation, trying to make things the way they were. And, since he was drunk, he probably bought into the possibility of being able to fix things that way more than he would have in a sober state.
Also, as Jill already said, I thought the chapter showed Towner's way of disassociating herself from what was happening to her - it shows us what she must have done, aside from being "Lyndley," to survive what her father was doing to her. I didn't see the chapter as unnecessary; in fact, for me, it was pivitol, because the end of that chapter was where I finally felt certain that I knew what was going on - that there was no Lyndley and that she was actually Towner. I had wondered earlier about the possibility when Jack didn't tell May that Lyndley had jumped in the water and drowned, and this clinched it for me. At the end of the chapter he says that he can't believe he raped her, especially knowing the history with Cal Boynton - which would indicate that Cal was actually abusing Towner, not Lyndley. Also, he says that he had jumped into the water trying to save Towner - again, no mention of Lyndley.
I think Rafferty knew some of what was going on with Towner - like the fact that she believed her twin was alive and the suicide attempt - but I'm not sure that he knows everything. For instance, why does he say that Towner was Eva's grandniece (p. 285), when really, if Eva is Emma's mother, Eva is Towner's grandmother? Seems that Eva never filled him in on the real family tree? And wouldn't he have done the research on sexual abuse in children earlier than at the end of the story had he really known what Cal had done? Dirty family secret that nobody discussed - clearly, or he wouldn't have been so worshipped by his Calvinists.
Re: Eva and having to kill herself to set Towner free: someone else mentioned that this was the only way she saw to get Towner back to Salem to deal with reality. Her note at the end says that it was the only way she could see to save Towner from her downward spiral, so she would take her place; i.e. she would die so that Towner could live, because she felt that otherwise, Towner was going to eventually completely self-destruct. Why NOW - well, she'd already attempted suicide, invented Lyndley, and at the point when Eva killed herself, was at an impasse in therapy. She wasn't getting better. She'd run from what had happened with Cal and her suicide attempt, had had therapy which included electroshock treatments and supposed memory loss, and still believed in the existence of Lyndley. She just wasn't getting better, and Eva could see that.
Towner chose to be called Towner instead of Sophya as a result of her abuse. She says the way Cal says it reminds her of why she had to change it - he said it, "sibilant, snakelike. Sophya was a name that could be whispered in the night. Real quiet, so that no one else could hear it. Quiet enough so it didn't even wake my mother" (p. 371).
I agree with what others say about why nobody clues Towner in - they surely saw her as very fragile. Nobody wants to tell the crazy girl that she's crazy, that her sister isn't real. In Towner's version of events, May and Eva know what Lyndley is - her way of coping with her abuse - what would happen if she was forced to look that in the face? But they do try to help her. May tries to reason with her sister Emma and gets told that she's twisted and perverted (p. 241-242). So she tries to take custody. When Eva realizes that not only is Towner being abused, but that she has "resurrected" (for lack of a better word) her twin to deal with it, she sends Towner to therapy, but it doesn't take (p. 268). She's supposed to talk about her sister, but she refuses.
May's comment to Towner that she couldn't have loved her more if she'd been her own child - her final attempt to try to get through to Towner. I think that Towner knows on some level that Lyndley isn't real, that her father is really Cal, and that he did those horrible things to her - otherwise, she wouldn't have started to hyperventilate and felt the need to take her emergency pill. I think she just didn't want to accept it. It reminded me of the end of The Sixth Sense, when Bruce Willis's character finally realizes what he would have known all along if he'd been paying attention to the clues - he's dead - but he wasn't ready / didn't want to see it.
As for Towner not having an emotional compass - not sure exactly what you mean, Jen. I think that in the final scenes, she's certainly getting her bearings. She has the recurring dream / vision of Cal being torn apart by dogs for what he's done to her mother and "Lyndley," and she always wants him dead in this scenario until, when it is finally happening, she considers her unborn half-sister and Angela and Cal's love for each other. In the end she doesn't allow Cal to be torn apart, although he is badly injured and deserves it considering what he's done. To me, this shows that she is coming to grips with what has happened in her life and is able to start letting it go. She doesn't forgive him, but she doesn't become a part of his brand of evil, either.
"My twin sister, Lyndley, said she couldn't read lace, but I never believed her. The last time we tried, she saw the same thing I saw in the pattern, and what we saw that night led her to the choices that eventually killed her. When Lyndley died, I resolved never to look at a piece of lace again".
I think this is when she saw Emma badly beaten. The "Towner" part of her wanted to go with Jack; "Lyndley" wanted to save her mother, and so she went back to her family instead. I think Towner believed that Lyndley killed herself as a result of what had happened to her mother and her (Lyndley's) continual abuse at the hands of her father after going back.
So again, not my thoughts - this Vanessa obviously understood the book a lot more than I did. But I agree with what she said, and think it sheds some light on the plot (since yes, it was hard to follow). Now, having read these thoughts... any insights from you guys who have read it?