The beginning of the second part of the novel is in 1982. I had expected Jane to go with Jean Pierre to Afghanistan. Yet, what was surprising for me is that after the episode with Ellis Jane decides to marry Jean Pierre before going to Afghanistan. I can’t understand how Jane, who until that moment claimed she was in love with Ellis, shifted her affections so quickly. Then she gets pregnant, which is something that Jean Pierre doesn’t want, but he comes round eventually, and Jane has a baby girl, who she calls Chantal.
We learn more about Ellis. He is in America and has notified his superiors that he won’t go on missions any longer. One of the reasons is that he wants to have a relationship with his thirteen-year-old daughter, Petal. We learn that Ellis is divorced, and he married his ex-wife when he was very young. His way of life made the marriage fail, and it was only years later that he learnt about the girl. By that time Gilly, his ex-wife, had remarried, and Petal called her stepfather ‘daddy’. She only stopped when Ellis started visiting her.
We see Ellis pay a visit to his daughter, and he realises how much time he has wasted. Petal is almost a woman, and he realises that his place in his daughter’s life has come too late. When he suggests she could visit him in Washington, but Petal refuses. Then when they return to the house after having had lunch, Petal makes a point in hugging and kissing her stepfather. It is then that he realises that he has missed the boat as far as his daughter is concerned.
Then one of his colleagues meet him and talks to him about a plan for Afghanistan. The American government wants the different guerrillas to work together, and that way they can supply them with artillery. The man wants Ellis to be the agent, and one of the attractions for Ellis is to see Jane again, so he finally agrees.
In Afghanistan Jane has settled in her new life, and she has made friends. The marriage is not as happy as she hoped. Jean Pierre is distant, and at some point she even felt attracted to an Afghan man, but when she got pregnant, he lost interest. The guerrilla men in the village bring convoys from Pakistan, but the Russians have attacked them, which resulted in some deaths. The men think that the Russians’ observation systems must be very sharp. We know that it is Jean Pierre, who informs his contact Anatoly. First, he arranges to meet him on a radio and then he communicates what he knows face to face.
When Jean Pierre learns about the itinerary of the next convoy, he radios Anatoly. When they meet in a hut, they are surprised when Jane turns up. After an attack, a man took his wounded son, and when Jane administered penicillin, the boy had an allergic reaction, and when she felt at a loss, she ran after her husband. The two men are startled, but Jane doesn’t seem to notice anything strange.
When Jane returns to the village, she is saddened when the boy dies. Then she starts thinking about the strange attitude of her husband when she found him in the hut. The man who was with him was speaking in French when he asked him about his blisters. Jane, who is a linguist, notices that the man speaks with a Russian accent, and then she knows that a Uzbak, who is the disguise of the man, couldn’t have blisters. So she realises that her husband is a spy, and he is the reason why the convoys are attacked. Jane remembers that at first her husband supported the Soviets, but then he gave up. Now she realises that his silence was just a facade.
When the truth sinks in, Jane feels torn. She doesn’t want to lose her husband, but if the next convoy is attacked, some other men might die. So she talks to Mohammed Khan, who is the guerrilla leader in the village, and pretends she has had a vision, and he should send a runner so that the convoy change the itinerary.
After all this, Jane knows she doesn’t want to stay here any longer. There is danger everywhere, and she wants her daughter to have the comforts that Europe can cater for. So she tells Jean Pierre that she wants to leave, but the man refuses categorically, and however many arguments Jane gives him, he won’t hear her out. From his thoughts we learn that the reason why he decided to support the Russians is because he is a Communist. His father was also a Communist, and during the war he was part of the Resistance. Yet, when the Second World War he got involved in some movement for the liberation of Algeria, which was considered a terrorist movement. The man was arrested after he tried to transfer money to the movement from Switzerland. Jean Pierre’s father was sent to prison, and now Jean Pierre is bitter as prison was the ruin of his father, who contracted tuberculosis there and eventually died. Then Jean Pierre joined the Communists, who believe that the lead to follow comes from Russia, and that is why he is supporting these invaders in Afghanistan.
Thanks to Jane’s tip-off, the convoy reaches the village to Jean Pierre’s consternation. In the convoy she gets a surprise. Ellis arrives with the other men, and he claims that he is in Afghanistan to teach the guerrillas about explosives and bombs. At that moment Jane realises that with Ellis there, it is a question of time he discovers that Jean Pierre is a spy, which will mean his death. So running to the house, she starts looking for a radio, which she imagines Jean Pierre has to communicate with his contact. She finds it in a secret department in his bag. With a heavy stone she hits it, intending to destroy it, and at that moment Jean Pierre appears, and seeing what she is doing, he punches her repeatedly. The man is furious, and he ends up in tears as he realises what Jane has done. Silly Jane feel sorry for him even if he has beaten her up. Yet, she threatens to tell Ellis about his activities if he doesn’t stop. In reality, she knows he won’t breathe a word because she doesn’t want Jean Pierre to be killed and she doesn’t want to destroy her marriage. Is Jane silly or what? This man has deceived her, helped to kill people who Jane cared about, and on top of it all, he has beaten her up, and she still loves him and wants to make their marriage work.
The following day Ellis takes the men of the village and the guerrilla leader to show them how to blow up a bridge. As a consequence, he is wounded. Jean Pierre is summoned, and he thinks this is his opportunity to kill Ellis. He will inject digitalis into him, which will make Ellis have a massive heart attack, and nobody will be any the wiser. Yet, when he is about to do that, the guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Masud arrives, and Ellis and the man talk. Ellis proposes a meeting with the leaders of the three tribes, and then they will talk about the guns the American government will provide. Jean Pierre feels this is the chance he needed. This will be his coup as the Russians will be able to get rid of these powerful three men at the same time. In order to do that, he needs Ellis alive, or the meeting won’t take place.
The problem is that without a radio and Jane watching him as a hawk, he has no idea how to contact Anatoly. Then he thinks of a way. He writes a note and uses a man who he provides with heroin to do the delivery. He promises the man free access to the heroin. For days he expects the man to arrive, but there is no news. Then two men come telling him that there has been an attack in a nearby town, and he is needed. This is a hoax, and it is Anatoly, who is expecting him. Jean Pierre tells him all he knows, and Anatoly is grateful. Then when he is ready to leave, a helicopter arrives, and Anatoly tells him that he is coming with them, and in due course Jane and his daughter will join them.
I wonder what will happen. Is Anatoly trustworthy or is Jean Pierre and his family at risk? I really don’t like Jean Pierre and don’t care what happens to him, but I hope nothing bad befalls Jane and Chantal. I think that Jane has never been in love with her husband even though she tells herself that she loves him. The way I see it, she went from Ellis, who she felt disappointed in, to Jean Pierre quite quickly, and it is clear she doesn’t know anything about him.