I was outraged as I read how Lydia and Charlotte behave. The girl discovers that Aleks is in her country house, and when she’s sent to the same house as a punishment, she sends a letter to Feliks to let him know where Aleks is. It is not enough, and she gives him directions so that they can meet in the wood near the house. The man finally spills the beans about him being her father, but he doesn’t reveal his true intentions about Aleks. Even if he planned to kidnap Aleks, that is bad enough, and Charlotte is quite stupid for letting herself be dragged into this by a man she knows nothing about. And when Feliks tells her that he’s her father, she doesn’t even question whether he’s telling her the truth. We know it’s the truth, but the man could be lying through his teeth. And the girl gets him into the house!!! And when Lydia finds out that Feliks is in the house, she doesn’t tell her husband!!! She puts everybody in jeopardy for a man who she loved twenty years ago, and who she knows is a murderer!!! She’s risking the life of her nephew and her husband, two men who don’t deserve to be threatened that way.
Both mother and daughter behave more and more foolishly. The police find out that Charlotte is the person who told Feliks about Aleks’s whereabouts, and when Walden and the police officer question her, she keeps quiet, stubbornly refusing to help them. And Lydia goes to Feliks’s hideaway and allows him to make love to him. I really can’t understand Feliks’s allure. I like Walden much better; he’s not a saint as in his youth he was also wild, but he has shown how much he loves his wife and daughter, and would do anything for them. He’s a person to trust. It’s true that Walden has had it easier, and Feliks has had a very hard life. However, I can’t find any justification to his ruthlessness. And even though he claims he still loves Lydia, and discovering Charlotte has changed him, he still doesn’t hesitate to lie and deceive these women or put their lives at risk.
Tortured by remorse, Lydia finally confesses her secrets to Walden, even about Charlotte’s real father. It is then that they realize that the house is in flames. Feliks has set it on fire to make Aleks to leave his room, and Feliks finally kills him. Yet, he helps save Charlotte when her room won’t open, and when she rescues her, the floor collapses and he dies. This last redeeming act doesn’t make me see him in a different light. He finally succeeds in his goal, but as we know, the war won’t be stopped and Russia will take part in the war, and Churchill orders to hide the way Aleks died.
The epilogue tells us about the war and Charlotte’s life. First, she joins the international nurses, and then becomes a translator of Russian novels, and she gets married. We don’t know what happens to Walden and Lydia after the events in the novel. We just know that Lydia had a son, but I don’t know if the boy was Walden’s or Feliks’s. But what about the relationship between them? After what Walden learnt, did he manage to get past those secrets of his wife? I would have liked to know more.
Very intense novel. The women in the book act quite stupidly, but I really enjoyed the plot. Ken Follett is a wonderful author and I never get tired of reading his books.