Summary: Part 4, Chapters 7-13

Chapter 7 

At a bar called the White Bear in Cambridge, Theo meets Paul and notes that there are discrepancies between his account and Alicia’s journal. Paul is evasive, but Theo insists that Alicia’s wellbeing is his responsibility and pressures Paul to answer his questions. Paul claims that Alicia never said anything to him about being stalked, but that this isn’t surprising, as theirs was not a close and communicative family. However, Paul does feel that he has something important to tell Theo about an incident that occurred after the death of Eva, Alicia’s mother. He offers to bring Paul to the scene of the incident.   

Chapter 8 

Paul and Theo return to Paul’s home, and together they climb up a ladder to the roof. It is a dark and icy night and Theo, who doesn’t trust Paul, is nervous. At one point, he even thinks that Paul is about to attack him, but instead he pulls Theo away from the slippery outer edge of the roof. Paul tells Theo that this is where Vernon, Alicia’s father, killed her. Confused, Theo asks Paul to clarify, and Paul explains that one day, shortly after the death of Alicia’s mother, he and Alicia were sitting on the roof when they heard a drunk Vernon speaking to Lydia below them. Vernon, Paul claims, was distraught at the death of Eva and loudly expressed his desire for Alicia to have died instead. Alicia, Paul claims, turned to him and declared that her father had just killed her. Theo feels that this story is key to understanding Alicia, who was symbolically killed by her father in that moment, condemned to die much as Alcestis is condemned by Admetus.  

Chapter 9 

Back at The Grove, Theo meets again with Alicia and explains what he learned from Paul. As she glares at him angrily, he tells Alicia that her father “killed” her spiritually when he wished for her death. He offers Alicia one last chance to speak before he gives up on these risky secret meetings, arranged against Diomedes’ direct orders. Finally, at long last, she speaks the word “okay” as Theo’s eyes fill with tears of happiness and surprise.  

Chapter 10 

Excited, Theo reports to Diomedes that Alicia has finally agreed to speak. Although Theo went behind his back to arrange the secret meeting with Alicia, Diomedes is impressed with Theo’s initiative and determination, and he wants to tell the Trust about this positive development in Alicia’s case. Theo, however, insists that they move slowly so that they don’t scare Alicia back into silence. He meets with Alicia again, who is unused to speaking. After a slow start she begins to speak more rapidly as Theo sits and listens carefully.  

Chapter 11 

First, Theo asks Alicia about her refusal to speak, a question that seems to bore her. She simply responds that she had nothing to say. Next, Theo asks Alicia why she has finally agreed to speak, and she tells Theo that it is because of him, as she feels that it is important that he understand her. Starting where her last journal entry ended, she tells Theo that the sound she heard coming from elsewhere in the house was not her stalker, but rather, Jean-Felix, who wanted to speak with her about the upcoming gallery exhibition. Alicia tells Jean-Felix to leave, and he does so after a short argument. Theo asks Alicia to talk about what happened afterwards, but she declines. Instead, they have a long discussion in which both talk about their childhoods, their families, and their personal lives. Alicia, Theo notes, wants to know as much about Theo as he knows about her.  

Chapter 12 

They meet again the next morning, and Theo notes that Alicia appears more reserved, perhaps because she is finally prepared to talk about Gabriel’s death. On the night of the murder, she claims, Gabriel called her to let her know that he would be returning home late. While working in her studio, she suddenly realizes that her stalker is in the room with her. Masked to hide his identity, he holds a knife to her throat threateningly. Fueled by adrenaline and fear, she kicks him and runs out of the house, but he recovers quickly, jumping on her and dragging her back into the building. Alicia pauses her narration, appearing distressed, and asks Theo for a cigarette. They walk outside together to smoke.  

Chapter 13 

They stand in the courtyard and an amused Alicia notes that Theo seems embarrassed to be seen smoking with a patient. They walk through the grounds together and Alicia continues her tale. The intruder requests a drink, and because she has nothing else at home, she pours him a beer. Next, she goes to pour herself a glass of water, hoping to find Gabriel’s gun, which she had previously stored inside a cabinet for easy access. However, when the intruder reveals that he has already taken the gun, she realizes that he is toying with her and feels certain that he intends to kill her. Putting the nuzzle of the gun against her head, the intruder forces her to sit in a chair as he ties her wrists behind her back. Back at The Grove, Theo feels a sudden desire to protect and take care of Alicia, though she insists that is not what she wants from him. He asks her what she does want from him, and she declines to answer, turning around and walking back into the building.  


The information Theo finds in Alicia’s diary raises more questions than it answers, further tantalizing Theo and sending him down new avenues of inquiry. He returns to Cambridge, where he continues to play detective, wielding Alicia’s diary against Paul and forcing him to confess to his previous omissions. When Paul tells Theo to mind his own business, Theo counters that it is his business, as “Alicia’s wellbeing is my concern.” Throughout the novel, other characters question Theo’s complex motivations for dedicating himself to solving the case of Alicia. Theo’s answer to Paul’s reasonable question reflects his profoundly exaggerated sense of his professional duties, which by no means extends to a private criminal investigation. He might be responsible for Alicia’s care at The Grove, but in tracking down and interrogating her friends and relatives, he has stretched any definition of his duty to her wellbeing far beyond any professional limits. His conversation with Paul, then, is one of many moments in the novel that underscore the personal rather than professional nature of his investment.  

In Cambridge, Theo discovers what he considers to be the final piece of the puzzle that will allow him to finally solve the murder of Gabriel. Alicia herself does not appreciate the deep impact that her father’s cruel words have had on her emotional development, largely forgetting about the incident. However, Theo is highly sensitive to the ways in which childhood circumstances shape a person’s later outcomes in life, and he perceptively recognizes the importance of Paul’s story. The psychic impact of traumatic events is a major theme in the novel. Theo and Alicia both bear psychological wounds that cannot easily be repressed and which threaten the happy lives that they have built for themselves. Though Alicia has moved on from her difficult childhood, leaving her home and finding personal and professional success, Theo believes that the hurt and anger that she has carried with her since childhood must have burst out of her on the night she killed Gabriel.   

Despite his deeply unprofessional conduct and his narrow focus on just one patient, Theo is in some regards an astute psychotherapist. By returning to the scene of her childhood, he uncovers a seemingly minor incident that has come to shape Alicia’s life, using drastic methods that other psychotherapists would never consider. Though his behavior raises thorny ethical questions, his empathetic approach to psychotherapy has, it appears, made progress where other therapists at The Grove failed. He feels vindicated when Alicia finally breaks her silence, crying in disbelief and gratitude. Diomedes, who terminated Theo’s treatment of Alicia, is deeply impressed with the initiative that Theo has shown and praises him for helping Alicia to find her voice. Still, key details in these chapters cast some shade over his apparent success. Though he believes that he understands her underlying psychological motivations, the actual events of Gabriel’s murder remain shrouded in mystery, and Alicia appears to enjoy flexing her power over Theo, intentionally drawing out the ending of her tale. Further, Theo’s deeply protective feelings towards Alicia as she describes her harrowing experiences reflect the possessive tendencies that he shows at various points in the novel. As Ruth predicted, Theo continues to develop highly codependent relationships with others, demanding love from those who are least equipped to return it.