Summary: Part 2, Chapters 27-34

Chapter 27

Kathy tells Theo about her plan to grab drinks with Nicole, an old friend, after rehearsal, but Theo believes that this is a pretext for meeting her lover. He follows her to the theater where she works, and when she doesn’t appear outside, he goes in to confirm that she was at the rehearsal. He finds her there and hears her making plans to meet someone on her phone. When she leaves, he stalks her through London and then follows her into a bar. When he sees a man walk up to Kathy, he feels that his suspicions are confirmed, but then the man walks away. After a wait, Nicole enters the bar and greets Kathy. Theo exits the bar, feeling disappointed.  

Chapter 28 

Yuri sets up a new art studio for Alicia in an unused room next to the goldfish bowl, and Theo is grateful for Yuri’s help. Inside the studio, Alicia stares at the blank canvas in a trance-like state and then begins to paint, first painting one single red stroke across the white canvas and then adding more, in a quick and spontaneous fashion. At first, she seems to ignore Theo’s presence, but then she begins glancing at him and he realizes that she is studying him. The painting finally takes a recognizable form, depicting a redbrick building that closely resembles The Grove on fire. On the fire escape are two figures, a man and a woman who resemble Alicia and Theo.  

Chapter 29 

At The Grove, Theo hears a woman loudly demanding admittance. She is a blonde American woman in her mid-sixties named Barbie Hellman, and she demands to see Alicia. Stephanie argues that Barbie needs to schedule an appointment in accord with new measures designed to tighten security. Theo introduces himself and Barbie turns her attention to him, complaining about hospital policies and identifying herself as Alicia’s best friend. Stephanie, exasperated, gives up and Theo walks Barbie over to Alicia, who doesn’t show any response. Alicia continues to show no response as Barbie chatters ceaselessly about her own life. After their one-sided conversation, Theo approaches Barbie to ask her some questions about Alicia, and Barbie responds enthusiastically to his curiosity. Though he knows that Diomedes would disapprove, Theo accepts Barbie’s invitation to come to her house in the early evening.  

Chapter 30 

Barbie is a wealthy American woman who received her large, overpriced home from her ex-husband in their divorce settlement. Pouring herself a glass of red wine, Barbie talks about her close relationship to Alicia, her next-door neighbor, whom she visited frequently. To Theo’s disappointment, she can’t name Alicia’s former doctor, but she does tell Theo that Alicia was being watched by a strange man. Theo is taken aback by this news and presses Barbie for more information. Pulling out her cell phone, she shows him a photo of what she claims is a man hiding behind a tree, though the photo is too blurry to be useful. Further, she claims that prior to the murder of Gabriel, she visited Alicia and found her crying. Alicia then told her that a man has been watching her from outside of her home, and that she fears she is being stalked. However, Alicia has not called the police, nor told Gabriel about her alleged stalker, though Barbie encourages her to do so. Though Barbie would like to keep talking, Theo feels that he has heard enough and makes his exit.   

Chapter 31 

When Theo returns to The Grove the next day, he hears screaming. Amid a flurry of activity, Theo sees two nurses huddled over a screaming woman. He looks closer and sees that it’s Elif, who is bleeding profusely and has been stabbed in the eye with a paintbrush. Nearby, Alicia has been restrained by staff, though Theo notes that this is unnecessary, as she is standing completely still. Theo suddenly feels afraid.  

Chapter 32 

Later, Yuri tells Theo that Elif is in a stable condition. Theo wants to speak with her, but Yuri tells her that she will be resting until the following morning. Wondering about the cause of Alicia’s attack, the two enter Alicia’s studio and see that her painting of The Grove on fire has been defaced with a curse word in red paint. The next morning, Theo visits Elif in the emergency ward and she curses at him, demanding to be left alone. Theo is persistent, but Elif feels that he intends to pin the blame on her. Theo reassures her that he just wants to understand what happened. Initially, Elif denies any wrongdoing, but after Theo tells her that he’s seen her defacement of Alicia’s painting, Elif insists that the painting had nothing to do with it. Rather, Alicia attacked Elif after she suggested that Theo was attracted to Alicia. She similarly taunts Theo, and he exits to the sound of her cruel laughter.  

Chapter 33 

Theo enters Diomedes’ office for an emergency staff meeting concerning the attack on Elif. Backed up by Christian, Stephanie takes the center stage, describing the situation as unacceptable and criticizing Theo for reducing Alicia’s medication and giving her the special privilege of her own private studio space. Theo defends himself and criticizes Stephanie for placing Alicia in seclusion, a form of solitary confinement which he believes is inhumane and ineffective. Stephanie points out that she is responsible for safety in The Grove and therefore has the authority to place patients in seclusion. Christian argues that it was irresponsible of Theo to reduce Alicia’s medication, and Theo retorts that Christian’s dosage left Alicia in a zombie-like state. Theo has Indira’s support, but Diomedes settles the debate in favor of Stephanie. He feels that Theo has gotten too close to the case to see clearly, and notes that another incident like this could lead to the closure of The Grove. Theo asks for more time with Stephanie, but Diomedes puts his foot down and terminates Theo’s treatment of Alicia.   

Chapter 34

Theo feels depressed after the meeting, convinced that his treatment of Alicia has been a waste of time. Yuri escorts Alicia to Theo’s office so that he can explain that their sessions will be discontinued. First, Theo apologizes to Alicia for her placement in seclusion, and then he expresses his disappointment in the outcome of their meetings, suggesting that she should have tried harder. He gives her one last chance to speak and explain herself. She says nothing but hands him a small leatherbound notebook: her diary. He looks through it and sees pages of notes and doodles that get less orderly and legible towards the end.  


Theo’s behavior in both his personal and professional life becomes increasingly concerning throughout the course of the novel. Rather than talking to Kathy about his suspicions regarding her fidelity, he resorts to drastic tactics, spying on her at her place of work, trailing her through the streets of London like a detective, and stalking her at her social engagements. His paranoia begins to cloud his judgement, and he jumps to the false conclusion that a random man walking past Kathy at the bar must be her partner in the affair. This error reflects the grasping nature of his paranoia, which converts everything he sees into more evidence of what he already suspects. When he finally accepts that Kathy is in fact meeting her friend Nicole (and not going on a date with another man), Theo is disappointed rather than relieved. This surprising reaction suggests that he was eagerly anticipating the pain of betrayal. Rather than addressing the issue productively by either confronting Kathy or leaving her, he chooses to indulge in his own self-pity. As in other parts of the novel, Theo’s alarming behavior seems to reflect mental health issues that have not yet been resolved despite his years of therapy and training as a therapist. Despite Ruth’s advice that Theo leave Kathy and avoid repeating his own past mistakes, Theo remains unable to move on, taking a sickly pleasure in his own pain.  

At work, he remains narrowly focused on Alicia and is largely uninterested in the other patients under his care. When Elif is violently and brutally attacked, his first reaction is to be glad that it was Elif rather than Alicia who was hurt. Rather than allowing Elif time to rest, he wants to see her immediately, interrogating her for more information regarding Alicia and showing little concern for Elif’s wellbeing. At the staff meeting following the attack, he takes the criticism of Stephanie and Christian very personally, disregarding their legitimate safety concerns and showing little interest in anything other than the continuation of his treatment of Alicia. Even Diomedes, who previously supported Theo after Alicia’s previous violent outburst, recognizes that Theo has grown “too close” to the case to maintain the critical distance required of a psychiatric professional. Whether or not Elif is correct to insinuate that Theo is attracted to Alicia romantically, his investment in her treatment clearly exceeds professional obligation and has taken on deep personal stakes.  

The painting that Alicia completes under Theo’s supervision seems to address his complex motivations in a typically cryptic fashion. In the painting, The Grove is depicted on fire, with high flames surrounding the red brick exterior of the building. On the fire escape, a figure who closely resembles Theo holds a figure who resembles Alicia in his arms. Theo notes that it isn’t clear whether Theo has rescued Alicia from the fire, or if he plans to throw her into the flames. Like her other paintings, this one can be interpreted in various ways. On one hand, the painting could indicate that Theo is her savior, rescuing her from institutionalization at The Grove, but on the other hand, Theo could pose a threat to her and others at the facility.