Footprints on the Sand 6 (Chapters 9 – 11)

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SPOILERS!!!

There are two events in the part in 1941 that shock and sadden me. The first one is when Guy runs into Nicole in London, and after they talk, they become lovers, so he leaves Eleanor and hooks up with Nicole. We know that part of the reason why he wants Nicole is because she reminds him of Faith, and that is what he tries to do: find a replacement for the woman he loves.

The second event is so sad and I didn’t expect it. Poppy finally confronts Ralph about his lover when he comes up with another proposition: to go and live in a cottage in Scotland. Poppy guesses that this is his typical behaviour: when things go wrong, he ups and goes because he doesn’t know how to cope with things. Ralph admits that Linda left him a couple of months ago, won’t take his call or open the door, and when she left London, he tried to find her but by then she had taken up with someone else. Unable to see him any longer, Poppy goes for a walk, and as she considers her part  in Ralph’s infidelity. After her fourth child’s death she changed and became unsocial and kept herself at arm’s length. So she needs to accept that she is also to blame, and she knows she will always love Ralph. Then she sees a plane in the sky, and scared she starts to run, but the plane hits her and she dies, dreaming of the beach and a man making sandcastles. That was really sad, but I loved the last paragraph with the reminiscence of the sea and when she first met Ralph.

The book then jumps ahead in time. It is 1951, and things have changed for all the characters. Guy has returned to Eleanor and we learn that after Poppy’s death Nicole was shattered and their love affair died. Then Eleanor took her back on condition that he joined her father’s practice and never saw the Mulgraves again. In 1951 it is clear that Guy is not happy with the life he has, and the only thing that gives him some happiness is his son Oliver, but the boy is growing up and is drifting away from him.

Nicole’s life is as unsteady as her childhood was. She has been married and divorced twice, and her career is not as bright as she thought she would be. Jake hasn’t settled either. During the war he was in the French resistance thanks to David’s contacts, and after that, he hasn’t been able to keep a job. He hasn’t spoken to his father for ten years, as he blames him for his mother’s death. Faith tells Jake that he needs to find a job and try harder to settle, and then he goes to find Guy when he is injured in a fight, Guy tells him that he could be a teacher as he speaks perfect French, and that is what he does. The governor of a boarding school hires him and he is not too scrupulous about his lack of qualifications as he can pay Jake less. In the boarding school he meets Mary Zielinsky, the matron, and after an incident with another teacher Mary and Jake become close and start spending time together, and I think she might be the woman he needs.

As for Faith, she and Constance have opened their dream dress shop after many years of scrounging and saving. Faith still hurts when she thinks of her sister and the man she has always loved, Guy. Years ago she decided she couldn’t stay angry with Nicole, but she knows things have never been the same. Faith loves children and has a wonderful relationship with her niece Lizzie. Then one day Guy, who has learned from Jake that Faith has a shop, turns up, and then the years of frustrated passion they finally get together. They keep their affair a secret, and Faith has never felt so alive. It is beautiful, but what will happen with Eleanor? Guy is afraid that Eleanor will keep Oliver from him, so that is the only reason why I think he won’t ask for a divorce. Yet, this situation is not fair for Faith either.

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