The novel starts in Deauville where Poppy is on holiday with her mother and two sisters. It is here where she meets Ralph and falls in love with him. Deauville is a commune in the Calvados département in the Normandy region in northwestern France. With its race course, harbour, international film festival, marinas, conference centre, villas, Grand Casino and sumptuous hotels, Deauville is regarded as the “queen of the Norman beaches” and one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in all of France.
The house where the Mulgraves spent their summers and were happiest is near Royan. Royan is a commune in the south-west of France. Main city of the Côte de Beauté, Royan is primarily one of the main seaside resorts on the French Atlantic coast, with five beaches sand, and also a marina that can accommodate more than 1,000 boats and an active fishing port.
Guy lives in Hackney where he has his surgery. The London Borough of Hackney is a London Borough in Inner London, United Kingdom. The historical and administrative heart of Hackney is Mare Street, which lies 8 km north-east of Charing Cross.
After Jake goes to Spain to fight, he ends up in a camp in Argeles. Argelès-sur-Mer is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. On It is about 25 km from Perpignan. During World War II, Argelès-sur-Mer was the location of a concentration camp, where up to 100,000 defeated Spanish Republicans were interned next to a windy beach in abysmal sanitary conditions by the French government after the defeat of the Spanish Republic. The refugees streamed to the camp from the winter of 1938/39 after the collapse of the Catalan front following the rebel offensive.
Jake falls in love with a German girl, Anni, and it is at the Gare d’Austerlitz where he sees her for the last time as he is leaving to marry another man. The Gare d’Austerlitz (Austerlitz Station), officially Paris-Austerlitz, is one of the six large terminus railway stations in Paris. It is situated on the left bank of the Seine in the southeastern part of the city, in the 13th arrondissement.
In 1940 the Germans take over France, and Jake has to flee Paris and joins his family, and all of them move to England. The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. In six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June 1944.
During the war Eleanor is very active in the Women’s Voluntary Service. The Royal Voluntary Service (known as the Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS) from 1938 to 1966. It was founded in 1938 by Stella Isaacs, Marchioness of Reading, as a British women’s organisation to recruit women into the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) services to help in the event of War.
During the war Faith drove an ambulance. During World War II, the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service was operated by over 10,000 auxiliaries, mainly women, from all walks of life. They ran services from 139 Auxiliary Stations across London. A plaque at one of the last to close, Station 39 in Weymouth Mews, near Portland Place, commemorates their wartime service
Ralph and Poppy live in a cottage belonging to Poppy’s sister Iris, which is in Norfolk. It is near the cottage where Poppy is killed. Norfolk is a county in East Anglia in England. It borders Lincolnshire to the northwest, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea and, to the north-west, The Wash. The county town is Norwich.
Oliver lived with his great-grandmother during his first years in Derbyshire. Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire, containing the southern extremity of the Pennine range of hills which extend into the north of the county. The county contains part of the National Forest, and borders on Greater Manchester to the northwest, West Yorkshire to the north, South Yorkshire to the northeast, Nottinghamshire to the east, Leicestershire to the southeast, Staffordshire to the west and southwest and Cheshire also to the west.
Faith meets Constance when she joins the Land Army. The Women’s Land Army (WLA) was a British civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars so women could work in agriculture, replacing men called up to the military. Women who worked for the WLA were commonly known as Land Girls. In effect the Land Army operated to place women with farms that needed workers, the farmers being their employers. As the prospect of war became increasingly likely, the government wanted to increase the amount of food grown within Britain. In order to grow more food, more help was needed on the farms and so the government started the Women’s Land Army in June 1939. The majority of the Land Girls already lived in the countryside but more than a third came from London and the industrial cities of the north of England.
The royal blue dress that Faith has always loved and worn since she was very young is a Jeanne Pacquin dress. Jeanne Paquin (1869–1936) was a leading French fashion designer, known for her resolutely modern and innovative designs. She was the first major female couturier and one of the pioneers of the modern fashion business.
After the war when Oliver first escapes from his school, he goes to the Festival of Britain. The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition and fair that reached millions of visitors throughout the United Kingdom in the summer of 1951.
There are also references to Coronation Day. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon took place on 2 June 1953, at Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth ascended the throne at the age of 25, upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952, and was proclaimed queen by her various privy and executive councils shortly afterwards.
When Oliver meets Elizabeth, she is involved in the Aldermaston March. The Aldermaston marches were anti-nuclear weapons demonstrations in the 1950s and 1960s, taking place on Easter weekend between the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire, England, and London, over a distance of fifty-two miles, or roughly 83 km. At their height in the early 1960s they attracted tens of thousands of people and were the highlight of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) calendar. The first major Aldermaston march at Easter (4–7 April), 1958, was organised by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) and supported by the recently formed CND. Several thousand people marched for four days from Trafalgar Square, London, to the Atomic Weapons Establishment to demonstrate their opposition to nuclear weapons.
At the end of the novel Guy goes to Africa as a volunteer, in particular Tanganyika. Tanganyika was a sovereign state, comprising the mainland part of present-day Tanzania, that existed from 1961 until 1964. It first gained independence from the United Kingdom on 9 December 1961 as a state headed by Queen Elizabeth II before becoming a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations exactly a year later.
He finds Jake in Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaamis the former capital as well as the largest city in Tanzania. It is the most populous city in the coastal region of East Africa and is a regionally important economic centre. Located on the Swahili coast, the city is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.