Publishing year: 2016
This novel is intriguing from the word go.
Imogen sends a text to her husband, Vince, telling him that she is on her way to the airport. Yet, we soon learn that she is escaping from him. Imogen has been planning her flit for two years, and only now has she had the opportunity. Imogen is a PA, and she had to travel to Paris with her boss for some exhibition, which is something Vince didn’t approve of.
After the exhibition, Imogen is supposed to travel home in Dublin. Instead she takes a bus, gets rid of her phone, and travels to Hendaye in the French Basque Country, which is a place where she lived for years as a child. We don’t know all the particulars, but we know that Imogen and her mother Carol lived in Provence with Carol’s sister-in-law, her partner, and her partner’s mother, Mme Fournier, who owned the Bed and Breakfast where the five of them lived. Then the older woman met someone who she married, and then she sold the B&B, her daughter and her partner moved to New York, and Carol and Imogen went to live in Hendaye. Mme Fournier found Carol a post as a housekeeper for a family, the Delissandes, and that is where Carol and Imogen lived for years. From Imogen’s memories and sensations, we know that she was very happy there, but they had to return to Dublin when Imogen was nine because Carol had an indiscretion, I imagine, with Denis Delissandes.
Imogen hasn’t told many people about her and her mother’s stint in Hendaye. Everybody knows about Provence, and that is why she decides to travel to Hendaye and find a new life there. It is clear that the problem here is Vincent, who, from what we have seen, treats her as if she were useless, weak, and vulnerable, and I can imagine that life with him must have been unbearable, as he is a control-freak. Maybe he also hit her, and that is why she has fled, and she is scared. Otherwise, she could simply have abandoned him and filed for a divorce.
We also see Vince’s perspective. He gets crazy when he comes home and discovers that Imogen hasn’t been there after returning from Paris. He is unable to contact her in the company she works for, and he also calls Shona, her best friend. IN the evening when he decides to fetch Imogen from work and hears her explanation, he is told she is not there, and he gruffly demands to see Imogen’s boss, Conor. The man tells him that Imogen doesn’t work for him any longer. That morning he discovered that she had left a note for him in his suitcase, telling him that she resigned with immediate effect, but she attached the notes from the exhibition. Vince is puzzled and furious, and he even accuses Conor of having an affair with Imogen, which obviously the man denies. Conor tries to appease Vince, telling him that the last time he saw Imogen she planned to travel to Dublin from the airport and he was on his way to the station for the eurostar.
Next Vince goes to talk to Shona after he has talked to the police. Shona doesn’t know much about Imogen disappearing, but they discover that she has deleted her account on FaceBook. From what Shona says, she always thought that Imogen and Vince were the perfect couple and were very much in love. Vince confirms her impression, and he says that they were trying for a baby, which surprises Shona. Imogen never told her about the baby thing, but she remembers that once Imogen told her that she didn’t think she would be a mother. Shona is hurt that Imogen has done a bunk without telling her. It is interesting to see that Shona didn’t know anything about what Imogen had planned for two years. It seems that nobody knew about whatever problems Imogen had at home. I think we haven’t seen everything about Vince and Imogen. It is also curious that Imogen isn’t in contact with her family. There is mention of a stepfather who lives in England, but what about her mother? Did she die?
In Hendaya she has found a flat to rent for three months. What she needs now is a job, but she is afraid to give too many personal details, fearing Vince might find her. One good thing is that some of her personal documents still have her maiden name, Weir. So it will be easier to have a new life.