RATING: VERY GOOD
This was a beautiful book. Timothy manages to fulfil his dream and along the way he discovers himself and others.
When he is still in Monaco with Archie, he realizes that the relationship he has had with the young man in just a few days will be something he has never had with his own son. Rosamund, the elderly writer that Archie introduces him to, makes a good impression on Timothy, and when they leave, she writes a letter to Tim, asking him a favour. She tells him that Archie comes from a wealthy family, and his family has exerted too much pressure on him, especially his father. That is why Archie is so vulnerable. The favour Rosamund asks him is to try to coax Archie into visiting her more often as she doesn’t have much time left.
Timothy does what he can. Archie introduces him to the woman he is dating, Serena. They have both hidden their relationship from their respective parents as they fear they won’t approve. It is at the end of the book that Archie tells him that he and Serena are engaged to be married, and when he returns to England, Timothy even gets an invitation to his wedding.
The next destination for Timothy is Florence. There he is surprised when he sees his elder daughter Alice, and she tells him that she was trying to find him. Apparently, the bank had called the three siblings, alerting them about the twenty thousand euros that Timothy had withdrawn for Francine. Timothy feels upset as he feels that their children are getting too nosy as far as money is concerned. Alice tells him that he is wrong. What happens is that they were worried about him, thinking that someone might have attacked him or worse. Timothy has to eat humble pie and apologise.
Alice and Timothy meet later for dinner, and they have a heart-to-heart conversation. Alice tells him that she always realised that he was miserable with Isobel, and as years went by, she felt that the affectionate father he knew became morose and detached. That is the reason why Alice often stayed hidden in her bedroom, because she couldn’t stand the misery she could feel. Then when she was old enough, she left home and only came occasionally. Timothy realises that he has misjudged his elder daughter, and he feels that he hasn’t acted wrong with him. Alice surprises him as he thought that somehow he had lost his daughter, and now he understands what Alice is like.
Alice also tells him that he is into a relationship. The person she loves is another woman, and she expects her father to be shocked or upset. Yet, Timothy tells her that he can’t be unhappy because she is happy because what he has always wanted was for his children to happy.
This encounter with Alice is the part that I liked most in the novel. I loved the conversation between father and daughter, and it is interesting how we often misjudged the people who we are related to. Sometimes those who apparently are closer to us might be strangers as we take many things for granted.
After Florence, he goes to Rome, and he visits all the tourist sites. It is during the visit to Rome that he feels lonely and longs for Francine. He tries to call her, but there is never an answer. On his way to Rome he had met a nun on the train, and the very talkative nun made him think about certain things, that is, he now wonders what he will do with his life when his trip finishes. That is why he needs to know where he stands as long as Francine is concerned. When she doesn’t respond to his calls, he decides to cut his trip short and travel to Paris. On the train he tries to call her again, and this time she picks up. She sounds surprised, and when he tells her that he can be with her in an hour, she tells him that she will see him then. Timothy thinks that she sounded weird, but he imagines that he must have caught her by surprise.
A few minutes after calling Francine, his mobile rings again. It is Rosie, who calls from the hospital. Elsie is there, and the doctors thinks that it is meningitis. Ace is away in a conference and is trying to get the next flight home. Timothy doesn’t think about it twice, and when he reaches Paris, he takes the first train home. He tries to call Francine to explain the setback, but once again he is unable to contact her. Timothy gets to England, and Rosie welcomes him as if he were God himself. Ace is coming home soon, but Timothy doesn’t regret having rushed to be with his daughter and granddaughter. A few days later they get good news, and Elsie is discharged.
Timothy gets to talk to Rosie about meeting Francine and what happened. Rosie is not upset, but on the contrary, she is supportive. So when he tells her that he has to return to Paris, she understand. I was afraid about what Timothy will find out, and I was right to fear. When he gets to Paris, he finds Francine’s gallery closed. He decides to ask Pamela, the woman running the hotel, and she reveals the truth. Timothy has been duped. Francine is still married to Alain, and her husband is a gambler. That is why she needed so much money, and not because she was behind in her rent. Pamela tells her that this is not the first time that Francine has done something similar, and the only consolation Timothy has is that Pamela tells him that she could see that there was something different with Timothy. It was the first time Pamela had seen Francine look smitten, and that was why she thought that maybe this time things would be different.
Timothy feels like a fool, and unable to face his family so soon, he travels back to Monaco and visits Rosamund. Archie and Serena are there too, and Timothy tells both Rosamund and Archie what had happened to him. They are both understanding and encouraging. I think that in the end Timothy realises that not everything has been wasted as he has found good friends in Archie and Rosamund.
Months later we find Timothy in his new home. We know that his relationship with Alice has improved and she is to visit him soon. To his chagrin things aren’t easier with Oliver. We also learn that Rosamund died in her sleep a few months ago. Timothy has continued painting and he gets to sell some of his paintings to some local galleries. Then one day he gets a letter from Francine. She asks for forgiveness and confesses that she did love him, but she was unable to leave her husband. Now things have come to a head, and she has finally left Alain, and she swears she will pay him back his money. The last line is that maybe in the future they can even meet again and they will be able to love freely. After he reads the letter, Timothy smiles and says to himself that maybe they will meet again one day.
I really loved the book. I loved Timothy and all that he lives in his travels. It is a delightful novel. Just wonderful.