At the beginning of the book in 1974 Esme is living in Little Coxwell. Little Coxwell is a village and civil parish about 2.4 km south of Faringdon. Little Coxwell was part of Berkshire until the 1974 local government boundary changes transferred the Vale of White Horse to Oxfordshire.
When Devlin is on leave, he first sees Camilla in a house in Belgrave Square. Belgrave Square is one of the grandest and largest 19th-century squares in London. It is the centrepiece of Belgravia.
Rosindell, Devlin’s house, is near Kingswear in Devon. Kingswear is a village and civil parish in the South Hams area of the English county of Devon. The village is located on the east bank of the tidal River Dart, close to the river’s mouth and opposite the small town of Dartmouth.
The Langdons, Esme’s family, lived in Dartmouth. Dartmouth is a town and civil parish in the English county of Devon.
Esme and Devlin marry at St Saviour’s Church in Dartmouth.
Conrad, the architect that Devlin hires to rebuild the house, was an apprentice with Lutyens. Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (29 March 1869 – 1 January 1944) was an English architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses, war memorials and public buildings.
The book mentions several historical events. One of them is the 1929 stock exchange crash. The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as Black Tuesday (October 29),the Great Crash, or the Stock Market Crash of 1929, began on October 24, 1929 (“Black Thursday”), and was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, when taking into consideration the full extent and duration of its after effects. The crash, which followed the London Stock Exchange’s crash of September, signalled the beginning of the 12-year Great Depression that affected all Western industrialised countries.
In 1939 the characters mention the German-Russian non aggression pact. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact, the German–Soviet Non-aggression Pact or the Nazi German–Soviet Pact of Aggression, was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively.
The book mentions the invasion of Norway, Denmark and Holland.
Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany’s assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign. In the early morning of 9 April 1940 Germany invaded Denmark and Norway, ostensibly as a preventive manoeuvre against a planned, and openly discussed, Franco-British occupation of Norway. After the invasions, envoys of the Germans informed the governments of Denmark and Norway that the Wehrmacht had come to protect the countries’ neutrality against Franco-British aggression.
The Battle of the Netherlands was a military campaign part of Case Yellow, the German invasion of the Low Countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until the surrender of the main Dutch forces 14 May.
The Battle of Britain was won by the Allied and the prospect of invasion was averted. The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) defended the United Kingdom (UK) against large-scale attacks by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe). The British officially recognise the battle’s duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz, that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941, including the Blitz.
During the war Zoe worked in Shell Mex House for the Ministry of Supply. Shell Mex House is a grade II listed building situated at number 80, Strand, London, UK. The current building was built in 1930–31 on the site of the Hotel Cecil. During the Second World War, the building became home to the Ministry of Supply which co-ordinated supply of equipment to the national armed forces.
During the war Matthew joined the RAF. The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom’s aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world.
In 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked and the Americans joined the conflict. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941.
In 1942 the Allied Forces beat the Nazis in El Alamein. The Second Battle of El Alamein (23 October – 11 November 1942) was a battle of the Second World War that took place near the Egyptian railway halt of El Alamein. With the Allies victorious, it was the watershed of the Western Desert Campaign.
The invasion of France took place from Devon and Dorset. The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.