Julia visits Mamé at the nursing home where she lives. Mamé suffers from dementia and Julia has been informed by Mamé’s doctor that “it [is] excellent therapy to ask Mamé about the past.” On this visit, Julia asks Mamé when she and her husband, André, moved into their apartment on the rue de Saintonge. Mamé says she found out the apartment had been “suddenly vacated” from the building concierge, Madame Royer. Mamé says she was aware the apartment had become vacated due to a recent “big roundup,” but when Julia asks if Mamé ever wondered whether the apartment’s original inhabitants would return she obstinately replies, “We knew nothing […] Nothing at all.”
Julia gets her first “lead” on the story behind the rue de Saintonge apartment, which will dominate her journey for the remainder of the novel. She also begins to get a taste of how difficult it will be to uncover this story due to the Tézacs’ extreme reluctance to discuss the past. This chapter thus foreshadows the way that the existing tensions between Julia and her in-laws will only be exacerbated.