Opening sentence 1947, chapter 1: So this, said Kay to herself, is the sort of person you’ve become: a person whose clocks and wrist-watches have stopped, and who tells the time, instead, by the particular kind of cripple arriving at her landlord’s door.
There is a paragraph on page 99 that explains the retrogradation employed in this tale:
‘I go to the cinema,’ says Kay; ‘there’s nothing funny about that. Sometimes I sit through the films twice over. Sometimes I go in half-way through, and watch the second half first. I almost prefer them that way – people’s pasts, you know, being so much more interesting than their futures.’
It was also a pertinent point (page 320) to have Helen reading Frenchman’s Creek where the synopsis of that book is:
The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will alter the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for a life of honest love — and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger. It is this Dona who flees the stews of London for remote Navron, looking for peace of mind in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. She finds there the passion her spirit craves — in the love of a daring pirate hunted by all Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment’s joy.