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Characters

Nina Timeline and Summary

  • Victor sees Nina when he follows the gaze of the plus-foured Englishman over to her. At first, she doesn’t seem to recognize him, but she raises a ten-fingered hello as soon as she does and kisses Victor three times.
  • Nina reveals that her husband, Ferdinand, is here as well, along with Segur. She asks after Victor’s wife, Elena.
  • Victor recalls the first time he met Nina, at a birthday party in Russia in 1917 in the snow, when they kissed in the snow before knowing each other’s names. For the rest of the night she ignored him, though not intentionally. At the time, she was engaged to a guardsman.
  • Back in Fialta, Nina begins to buy a leather purse and then changes her mind, which Victor says is typical of her character. She is always either coming or going.
  • Victor recalls the second time he met Nina, at a party in Berlin, when she was single again and he now engaged. She was sitting in typical Nina fashion, in a folded Z position with a cigarette, and said upon seeing him, "Well, of all people—." She imagined, Victor explains, a long friendship between them which actually never existed.
  • A year later he met Nina again in a train station. She and Victor’s wife, Elena, took to each other, and he was hurt to discover that she was going to be married to Ferdinand. When Nina left on the train, she seemed to have forgotten all about them.
  • When Victor later met her, accidentally, in a hotel in Paris, she led him to her hotel room and they had sex.
  • When Victor discusses Ferdinand’s writing, he declares that Nina has probably never read an entire volume of her husband’s work. He is also certain that she has been intimate with at least a few of the men in Ferdinand’s circle of friends.
  • In Fialta, Nina and Victor meet up with Ferdinand and Segur.
  • Nina once said of Segur, "Oh, he is such a darling," but in Victor’s eyes this "[does] not commit her to anything."
  • Victor lists off several more instances from the past when he accidentally saw or bumped into Nina, including "seeing her" in one of the characters from Ferdinand’s fiction.
  • He recalls a particularly agonizing night at a friend’s chateau in the Pyrenees, where he, Nina, and Ferdinand were all staying. He waited all night for her to come visit him, but she never did. The next morning, when he told her of this, Nina "clasped her hands in dismay."
  • Victor is saddened by his interactions with Nina, but doesn’t know what to do with her. He feels something is being wasted by his "breaking off bits" but not appreciating the "true core" of this woman.
  • After the four friends lunch in Fialta, Victor walks with Nina. We see them near Segur’s yellow car, where Victor has a premonition of the three of them (Ferdie, Nina, and Segur) getting into the car and waving good-bye.
  • The narrative jumps back in time to the four of them eating lunch. Nina has shellfish "for the last time."
  • Directly after lunch, Victor gets Nina alone. They climb a staircase to a terrace and overhear the sounds of runners which have been sent ahead by the approaching circus.
  • Victor asks Nina, "What if I love you?" and she is taken aback and embarrassed. Seeing her reaction, Victor takes it back by saying he was only joking.
  • We cut to a scene of Nina getting in the car with her husband and Segur, and we later discover that she died in a car crash outside of Fialta, having run into a truck that was part of the traveling circus.

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