The action soon moves from France.
As I predicted, Sidonie proves to be a good friend to Clementine, and she advises Mrs Garland to take her daughters to Paris. Venetia has previously moved to France when she married Jules de Choiseul-Amboise, who had been Sidonie’s lover when she was young, but even though we don’t see many of the details about their previous relationship, we know that they didn’t part in good terms. Venetia manages to marry Jules when she finds herself pregnant, so her parents force Jules to do the right thing.
The Garlands and Sidonie move to France, and they visit Letitia, who is now the mother of a baby boy, but her husband is not too solicitous and is hardly ever with Venetia. Eliza makes the acquaintance of Edmond, Jules’s brother, who is the heir but his family has no money. Edmond has a lover, Corisande de Saint-Georges, a very disagreeable woman, who after her husband died penniless, she had nothing much to her name. Edmond is interested in Eliza from the first moment; he thinks she is beautiful, but his main interest is her money, and they eventually marry despite Corisande’s meddling, and even Phoebe Knowles’s appearance. Phoebe shows an eager interest in Edmond when she goes to visit Eliza, but she knows it is Eliza Edmond wants. We know that after leaving Bath the year before, Phoebe has been Mr Garland’s lover, but when she arrives in France, we don’t know how the adulterous relationship with her friends’ father progresses.
In France Clementine attracts the interest of two men. Antoine, who is Jules and Edmond’s cousin, but despite having a state house near Versailles, his family is not wealthy, and when Eliza marries, he goes to Martinique on business. The other man is the Duc de Coulanges, who she meets when she is travelling with Sidonie. It is clear that the man who awakens Clementine’s passion is Antoine, and she thinks that the duc is quite amiable.
The story jumps to 1789, and the two sisters are in the middle of the revolution. Clementine has married the Duc, but when the two sisters talk, it is obvious that their marriages are not what they hoped they would be. Eliza knows that her husband only married her for her money, and he is still in a relationship with Corisande de Saint-Georges. And Clementine thought she would end up loving her husband, but she only sees him as a friend, and they have only been together as husband and wife on their wedding night. So despite their mother’s aspirations, we can’t say the girls are happy.
As for the other two friends, Venetia and Jules lead separate lives, and Venetia has taken a lover, Eugène. Phoebe is back in France, and she hasn’t married yet. She tells Venetia that if she marries someone, it will be for more than money as she wants her husband to be her equal. She even confesses to having had a lover in London, but she doesn’t reveal her identity. It is not clear if Mr Garland and Phoebe are still lovers, but she sounds quite disappointed.
I have to say that I enjoyed the previous book by this author that I read, the one about Whitechapel. I can’t say why I’m not enjoying this one too much, but I find the events of the French Revolution too rash, and even the relationships of the different characters are not well developed for my taste.