Poor Coralie!!! I knew that Dietrich was not trustworthy, and even though he gives her more that she could wish for, he definitely behaves terribly. After weeks, Dietrich finally takes her to the universal expo. There Cora realises that she doesn’t know much about Dietrich and his political views, and when they visit the German pavilion, he greets his acquaintances with the Nazi salute. Then Dietrich introduces her to an art dealer, Thierry Clisson, and when she gets bored with the man, she excuses herself to go to the powder room. Then she decides not to join them again and remains on the balcony where both men are but just enjoying some solitude. When she decides to go and find Dietrich is not there, so she decides to go back to the hotel. To her shock she is told that Dietrich has settled the account and is gone, and the receptionist tells her that she is expected to leave her room presently.
Cora is disconcerted and afraid. Dietrich hasn’t left a message, and when she goes and asks her language tutor, the woman is not surprised as apparently this is something Dietrich does. She learns that Dietrich left Ottilia a few days before their wedding. What Dietrich had told Cora is that Dietrich and Ottilia had been engaged to be married, but he hinted that their love had been impossible. This revelation had unsettled Cora, especially when Dietrich admitted to still loving Ottilia. In that state of mind, she made the mistake of tearing one of the letters Dietrich had received, and to her horror she realized it came from one of his children, so what she did was hide it under the doormat. I think here is the key to Dietrich’s sudden flit. We know that Cora didn’t find the letter where she left it, so I imagine that Dietrich must have discovered the letter and thought that Cora was meddling in his family matters, and it is clear that Dietrich is an inflexible man, and I can well imagine that he is capable of inflicting this kind of punishment on others.
Now Cora is penniless and homeless, and as I suspected, she is pregnant. What I didn’t know was that her pregnancy is not the result of her love affair with Dietrich, but the affair she had with the French sailor that was her first love. She takes lodgings in a cheap pension, and tries to find a job at a milliner’s, but everyone turns her down as in August most stores close that month. The only place where she gets a small opportunity is at Madame Juno’s. She is taken to the lady, and she is requested to customise a hat. Cora changes the hat completely, and the result seems to please one of the shop keepers. Yet, Madame Junot is not as generous, and she tells Cora that in order to work for her, she needs to train for two weeks and then earn a trainee’s salary, and even though it is not much, Cora is happy to agree. Yet, she won’t be notified until October.
In the meantime, Cora tries to find other jobs, but her luck is not better. Then her luck even takes a worse turn when a man steals her handbag and her money. Yet, that brings a good thing as Thierry Clisson recognises her and comes to her. He tells her to call him Teddy, and she tells him that the night of the expo, Dietrich and he were waiting for her, and then Dietrich got an urgent call, so he left. Teddie reassures her that Dietrich didn’t want to go without her, but a second call pushed her to leave. I have the impression that Dietrich didn’t mean to leave for Berlin without saying goodbye, so I think something happened in the hotel to make Dietrich abscond without so much as a by your leave.
Cora tells Teddie about her financial difficulties, and he suggests she could work in a brothel, implying that she has been doing roughly the same with Dietrich. When Cora refuses and tells her she is pregnant, Teddie tells her that she could go to the nuns who could make sure the baby will go to a good family and then will find her a job. Cora refuses this possibility either as she wants to keep her baby. Then she tells Teddie that since he is also going on holiday, she could house-sit for him, and as he keeps refusing her suggestions, she remembers that Teddie reminded her of a man liking cats, so she tells him that he will look after his cat, and at long last he agrees.
While he is staying at Teddie’s, she tries her luck at the milliners’ again. She goes to the hat shop that Dietrich took her first and that belongs to Ottilia, but the girl, Violaine, tells her that there is no work for her there unless she does it for free. Then when she is on her way to Teddie’s house, she walks past Madame Junot’s and realises there is something going on. The shop is crowded, and her curiosity draws her there. To her utter shock, she finds that the hat she customised that first day is now on display as one of the star models. Cora goes inside, and the assistant that talked to her that first time tells her that the problem is that the famous designer whose models were inspiration for the hats that would go with them has found himself in a terrible predicament. Someone has copied his models, so now people are in an uproar, returning the models, so that means that the hats are useless.
Now feeling confident, Cora comes up to Madame Junot, who is in a terrible state, and she tells her that she will sort out the shop and the accounts. Madame Junot reacts in disbelief and refuses, but Cora stands her ground, and she uses the hat she designed and Madame Junot has shamelessly used as a creation of hers. In the end, Madame Junot leaves the business in Cora’s care while she leaves Paris. Cora does a good job, selling the hats that were deemed unsalable in the markets, and she keeps the business going.
As weeks go by, she feels more confident, but her middle grows bigger, and those in the shop have noticed. Cora has her confidantes in Amelie Ginster, the assistant, and Mme Zenon, who she tells about the baby, but when the others notices, she gathers everybody and tells her about her baby and her unmarried state. One of the team writes to Mme Junot about the situation with Cora, and since the woman is sick with the flu outside Paris, she sends someone else. The person who turns up is her brother, Ramon Cazaubon, who becomes smitten with Coralie at once. He doesn’t care that she is having another man’s baby as he asks him to marry her even though there has been no intimacy between them. Coralie refuses his proposal, but in the end when Ramon tells her that he wants to look after her and her baby, she finally agrees and they get married, leaving Madame Junot apoplectic with rage.
This part has been so interesting. I wonder if Coralie will hear from Dietrich again. In the prologue, Coralie is trying to help Ottilia, so how will the come into contact again? And will her marriage to Raman Cazaubon be successful? We know that she doesn’t love Ramon, so that is not a good perspective. In any case, I really love how Coralie has been able to reinvent herself. Like Dietrich advised him, she has shed her all identity, and Coralie has taken over, confident, and after sinking to the lowest position after Dietrich’s desertion, she has been able to reinvent herself and find herself a path towards success.