Julia visits the rue de Saintonge apartment, which is nearly fully renovated, and wonders if she will be able to bear living in the place where Michel died. One day in November, when Julia is visiting the apartment to make some decorating decisions, she receives a call from Mamé’s nursing home. Mamé has had a stroke and the home has been unable to reach Bertrand. Julia phones both of Bertrand’s sisters, and when Cécile reveals that she has just spoken to her brother, Julia realizes that Bertrand has been seeing Amélie again. She is infuriated by the fact that Bertrand’s sisters are able to reach him in an emergency and she is not. She wonders when Bertrand will realize that it is his cowardice rather than his unfaithfulness that devastates her.
Julia’s visit to the rue de Saintonge apartment once again emphasizes the important role that physical spaces play in embodying and perpetuating historical memory. Julia’s anger over being unable to personally reach Bertrand at Amélie’s shows, explicitly, how destructive she feels her husband’s silence about his mistress is. The fact that Julia characterizes Bertrand’s secretiveness as cowardice parallels the questions raised in Sarah’s storyline about how keeping secrets can be a misguided act and how silence can easily amount to complicity.
Julia hears a knock at the door and opens it to find William Rainsferd looking “gaunt, haunted.” Julia confusedly inquires how William got the rue de Saintonge address, since it is not yet listed. He produces a notebook and says the address was listed inside. Along with the notebook, he gives Julia a drawing and a key—item that he recently discovered while visiting his father. Julia’s phone rings—it is Edouard, who tells her that Mamé has been asking for her. Julia asks William to come with her, saying, “There’s someone I want you to meet.”
This chapter is moving in the way it shows a clear, direct link between the past and the present. Without Sarah’s notebook, William would not have been able to find Julia at the rue de Saintonge apartment. This profoundly emphasizes the interconnectedness of history and the present. The key also makes its first appearance in the present-day timeline of the novel, once again showing how physical objects and places serve as persistent witnesses to history.