We start at the track where Patrick is training. Lou has visited him and invites him to her birthday dinner, which will be at home with her family. Lou chooses this celebration over a night out, in spite of Patrick’s protests, partly to cheer her mom up. Treena and Thomas have just moved out so that Treena can go back to college, and Lou’s mom is having trouble adjusting. Lou hasn’t been home much, though. When she’s not at work she goes to the library and uses the computers there. She explains how this habit began. After going to the orchestra, she’d wanted to write a thank-you note with Will, to thank his musician friend for getting them tickets. Will’s dismay at the prospect of having to dictate a letter sent Lou on a search for products and technologies that might let Will write on his own. He actually embraces the voice-recognition software she suggests, and writes her a short, funny note of thanks with it. Lou is feeling motivated generally. She moves into Treena’s old room and redecorates it completely, which makes her dad observe that “This job has been the making of (her).” At work, she and Will have developed a routine of driving to secluded places around town. During one of these trips, Lou invites Will to her birthday dinner, partly because Patrick wants to meet Will. On the night of the dinner, Nathan drops Will off at Lou’s house. Lou’s parents are nervous about having Will over. Her dad meticulously designs a ramp to get him inside, and panics when he realizes they can’t shake hands. But in the end, Will charms everybody at the dinner. Even Lou’s mom seems distracted from how much she misses Treena and Thomas. Will has also brought along a bottle of champagne. Patrick tries awkwardly to open the bottle, and Will can’t resist correcting his technique, which makes Patrick defensive. In fact, Patrick seems to be the only person at the dinner who doesn’t love the new guest. He certainly reacts strangely when he sees his girlfriend feeding Will, though it’s such a normal part of her routine that she hardly thinks about it. Things get more awkward when Patrick insists on talking about his personal-trainer career and his ideas for how to cure Will’s disability, in spite of Lou’s attempts to make him stop. Will responds graciously and answers Lou’s dad’s questions about his former career, which reveals to Lou just how big of a deal he used to be in his professional life.
Then the presents come out. Lou’s parents, who are pressed for money, have made her a lovely scrapbook of her life so far. She’s moved by the gift, but saddened by her parents’ financial insecurity. Patrick has gotten her a beautiful necklace, though it doesn’t suit her very well, since she never wears jewelry. Will, meanwhile, remembered Lou’s story about her yellow-and-black striped tights, and has had two pairs made for her using his new voice-recognition software. Lou is delighted and puts the tights on right away. Will has also included a card, which he tells her to open later. Everything is perfect except for the strange competitiveness between Patrick and Will, which peaks when Will makes a comment, just before heading out, about Lou giving him bed baths.
Patrick confronts Lou about the comment later, and is visibly upset. He frames his dismay as concern about Lou’s job requirements. After all, she wasn’t supposed to have any medical responsibilities. He even suggests that she sue the Traynors. Louisa finds this absurd, since tasks like bathing Will and changing his catheter are by now routine to her. She finds his personality far more interesting than his body. Lou accuses Patrick of being jealous of Will, which seems accurate. When they finally have sex that night, after many days of Patrick acting uninterested, he seems strangely competitive, as if he wants to show off his strength. Lou suspects it’s all “for Will’s benefit.” After, unable to sleep, Lou opens Will’s card. It includes a lot of money—five hundred pounds in cash. The short, no-nonsense note tells her it’s a “birthday bonus."
We soon come down from this high note. May arrives and brings with it a wave of stories related to assisted suicide and Dignitas, including one about a former athlete whose parents allowed him to commit assisted suicide. Lou reads about his story at the library, and though various articles denigrate the athlete’s parents, others describe how much he wanted to die after his injury and how desperate his parents felt. Will doesn’t talk about these cases, but Lou catches him reading about them. This worries her, especially because her plan to get Will out and about hasn’t gone very far. A few important things happen in quick succession. Back at home, Lou’s dad has lost his job. He has trouble finding a new one because of his age, which puts Lou’s parents in a pretty tough financial situation. Lou tries to help by leaving Will’s birthday bonus in the kitchen, but her parents return it to her wordlessly. In the meantime, Lou spots Mr. Traynor in town with his arm around a strange woman. Next, Will gets an invitation to Alicia and Rupert’s wedding. He acts as if he doesn’t care, but Lou suspects he does, and puts the invitation in a folder where he won’t have to see it. Instead, Will insists on talking to Lou about books. He is particularly interested in a book called The Red Queen which is about genetics. Lou dislikes the book and worries about Will’s interest in it, since it talks a lot about women’s natural preferences for genetically superior men. Lou feels that this might be Will’s way of confirming his belief in his own physical inferiority.
Lou’s narration skips rapidly between her work and home lives for several pages. First, Treena comes home for the weekend, and seems happy and a bit unfamiliar to Lou. They talk about Lou’s progress with Will, and Lou’s mom is thrilled to see her younger daughter, though she doesn’t let on just how much financial trouble the family is in. Thomas wakes Lou a few times that night with his crying, and he ends up sleeping in her bed. Back at work, Lou and Will talk and eat lunch on the castle grounds. Will tells Lou about his favorite travel destinations, and says that he wishes above all he could go back to Paris. Getting a bit carried away, Lou suggests that the two of them actually go, but Will shoots her down. He doesn’t want to go back to any favorite destinations in his wheelchair. That might blunt the treasured memories of his time there back in the good old days, when he could get around independently. Will bugs Lou a bit about doing the castle maze, but backs down when she refuses without explanation.
That night, Lou finds her parents sleeping on the floor. They admit reluctantly that they have to sleep there so that Treena and Thomas can have their room, since the small bedroom isn’t big enough for them. They don’t want to take Lou’s bedroom, since she’s the only person in the family bringing in money. Shortly after, back at Granta House, Lou and Mrs. Traynor have a clandestine conversation. Mrs. Traynor wants to hear about whether Lou has made any progress in convincing her son to live. She seems skeptical but also as if she has no choice but to trust Lou, especially after confessing that she and Will have always had a distant and conflict-ridden relationship. The chapter ends with Lou revisiting the case of Leo McInerney, the athlete who died using Dignitas. As sad as his case is, his parents seem to be relieved, telling reporters that he looked like himself again afterwards.
Just as Will’s moods swing unpredictably between good and bad, the mood of the novel itself tends to swing, with highs and lows following each other rapidly. This reflects the situation that Will finds himself in. Like him, we, as readers, don’t have much control over the narrative, and must simply accept the abrupt shifts it entails. The sudden mood shifts also keep us on our feet and keep us interested in the story. Every time things seem either totally perfect or completely hopeless, it all starts to turn around. So the liveliness of Lou’s birthday party is offset by her fight with Patrick, and the worsening of her family’s finances contrasts with the profundity of Will and Lou’s conversations.
One of the major functions of this part of the novel is that it starts to blur the neat lines between Lou’s life at work, with Will, and her life at home. When she first took a job as Will’s caregiver, all we saw were the contrasts between these two parts of her life. Granta House felt quiet, uncomfortable, hostile, and wealthy, while her home felt familiar, noisy, loving, and impoverished. Suddenly, they’re no longer so separate. That’s in part because she’s grown so comfortable around Will and no longer dreads going to work, but it’s also true on a more literal level. She brings Will out into the town, and together they have started to share places like the castle grounds. And, now, she’s introducing him to the other important people in her life—her family and her boyfriend.
This comes with positives and negatives. Will gets along so well with Lou’s parents that all of his troubles, and all of the differences between him and Lou, seem to be minimized. At the same time, Patrick’s negative reaction reminds us that this isn’t going to be a fairytale. For one thing, Lou has a jealous boyfriend. More broadly, Patrick’s response to Will is emblematic of a broader attitude towards Will’s disability. He sees Will as a threat, but also believes that he can and should be cured, even though Will knows that a cure isn’t possible. Though Patrick has a more personal reason to dislike Will, he’s not the only person who acts simultaneously pitying and fearful. The moment in which Lou feeds Will, prompting stares from Patrick, perfectly sums up the complexity of the situation. Lou is, from one point of view, simply doing her job, and it’s not exactly Will’s fault he needs help eating. Yet Patrick’s not entirely wrong to be suspicious, since Lou and Will’s relationship is clearly more complex than a typical client/caregiver one. In other words, things have gotten very complicated.
Just as Will goes out into the world in this chapter, meeting people and exploring the town with Lou, the world starts to creep in on the safety of his and Lou’s cloistered relationship. Moyes is more or less reminding readers that, for all the joys of their time together in private, our main characters can’t stay inside the annex forever. With the rush of news stories about assisted suicide, we start to see more directly how Will’s problems are linked to a bigger-picture set of ethical, medical, and political issues. These stories also serve as parallels to Will’s showing what the stakes of his suicide might be for the living. Leo McInerney’s trajectory is fairly similar to Will’s, and his parents face not only grief but negative press and legal consequences after letting him go to Dignitas. Lou has been completely focused on changing Will’s mind, and remains so, but these stories offer a glimpse at how she might feel, and how the Traynors’ lives might be affected, if Will follows through with his plan.