We finally get the whole story about Imogen’s past. One of the main events of her family’s life is an accident in which her mother’s parents and husband died. Carol was left alone, and she had to make the hard decision to have Ray disconnected. Ray’s parents never forgave her, and Carol only found out a few weeks later that she was expecting a child. Ray’s sister, Agnes and her partner Berthe helped her, and they were the ones who persuaded her to move to France with them.
One of the things that marked Imogen for life was leaving Hendaye. Carol has always kept herself to herself, and focused on her work in the villa and her daughter. It was one weekend when Denis Delissandes came to the house to go hiking with a few friends and he sprained his ankle. It was one of those friends who draw his attention to Carol, and that weekend when Denis and Carol were alone, he made a pass at her, and feeling lonely, Carol let herself be seduced. They spent weekends together when Denis used excuses to come to Hendaye and be with Carol. Naturally, his wife Lucie found out about the affair when Imogen innocently made a comment about Denis and her mother spending time together in the bedroom. Naturally, Carol was kicked out of the place.
They had to move in with Agnes and Berthe, who were in Dublin temporarily. Imogen didn’t understand back then and kept begging her mother to return to Villa Martine and apologise. It was only later when she was older that she understood what had happened between her mother, Denis and Lucie Delissandes. I think this fact affected Imogen so much that he was wary about men later in life, but even so, she ended up with the wrong kind of man.
Back in Dublin Imogen was unable to fit in as the girls at school teased her for her accent and she didn’t have many friends. Then her mother met Kevin and started a relationship with him. Carol and Kevin eventually married, and Imogen was not too happy, but she eventually accepted Kevin and her stepsister, Chayenne. However, things didn’t stay well and Carol was diagnosed with cancer, which killed her. Imogen was naturally very sad, and as Agnes and Berthe came back for the funeral, she hoped that her aunts would take her with them. Yet, Kevin thought that Imogen had gone through much already, and it wasn’t fair to uproot her once again, and since he was her guardian, he thought that her place was with her.
Imogen stayed with Kevin and Chayenne, but then a year or so later Kevin met Paula, who he married. Since Paula was from Birmingham, Kevin decided to move the family there despite what he had previously said about uprooting Imogen. Once again Imogen didn’t adapt in Birmingham. Years later she decided to study at university in Dublin, and it is where she has been since then.
When Imogen met Vince, she had little experience about men. Her mother’s example, especially her indiscretion with Denis, weighed heavily on her mind, and that was why she was always wary. When she married him, she thought she had found the perfect man. Yet, she soon realised that Vince was no Prince Charming, but her jailer. Vince has never hit her, but since the moment they returned from their honeymoon, he set rules for everything, even for the silliest things, and even though at times Imogen tried to laugh it off, she couldn’t fight him. He was often rude, morose, and he tended to make derisive comments about her, her capabilities, her job, and about everything. It was because of Vince’s attitude and disapproval that she changed her life and stopped seeing some of her friends and kept the contact with her family to the minimum. The only person Vince approved was Shona and just because Shona had a dog and Vince used to have the same kind of dog as a child, and he enjoys talking about his dog with her.
In the novel we see an example how terrible Vince could be. The episode was Chayenne’s wedding. At first Vince tried to use all his arguments for Imogen to refuse to attend the wedding. Yet, this time she was adamant and even stated that she could go alone. Vince wouldn’t let her go alone, so he tagged alone. Yet, he was rude and made some comments that embarrassed Imogen and made her uncomfortable with her relatives. Imogen’s attitude and relationship hadn’t gone unnoticed by Kevin and Paula, who approached her and told her about their worries, but at the time Imogen was still sore for what happened when they made her move, and she couldn’t stand anybody criticising Vince even though she was the first one to notice Vince’s peculiarities.
Now that we have seen the whole picture, I am glad that Imogen has left Vince. I understand how someone like Vince could slither under your skin, and he is so clever that he can steal your soul so deftly that you don’t realise until later. I love that when Vince calls Chayenne, she doesn’t fall for his pity. Chayenne has never liked VInce, and I think he must have shared her father and stepmother’s concerns about Imogen and her husband. So when Vince phones and tells her that Chayenne is going missing and explains the circumstances, the woman states the truth. If Imogen has walked out on him that means that she doesn’t want him to find her. I love how she tells Vince what he needs to hear, and how she supports Imogen when Vince calls her vulnerable and weak. This man is sick and needs professional help. I hope that he never finds his wife, but I am afraid that he will locate her sooner or later.
In Hendaye Imogen is finding herself and the person she used to be. Her boss, René, has come onto her, but she has turned him down. No wonder. After leaving such a horrible man as René, I can understand Imogen wouldn’t touch a man with a barge pole. Yet, I wonder if that will change and René might knock down Imogen’s defences.