We first see Nicole on the French Riviera beach, swimming and playing with her kids.
We get a glimpse of her shopping and at the beach some more. We see a little more of her in the luscious garden at the Divers' home just before a party.
At the party she seems happy, but one of the guests reports that they saw something weird, something to do with Nicole, in the Divers’ bathroom. The Divers’ friend Tommy Barban stops the info from getting out.
Then Nicole goes to Paris with Dick, Rosemary and some other friends.
We see her do lots of shopping.
When Dick enlists her to help him get rid of the bloody sheets on Rosemary’s bed (after a man was shot there) she has a breakdown in the bathroom of her Paris suite.
In Book Two we see Nicole as a young woman, about 16. We meet her first through letters she’s written to Dick while in a Swiss psychiatric clinic. She tells him some things about her illness and her life, and flirts with him.
Then we see her through a story Franz Gregorovius tells Dick about her. We learn her father raped her when she was eleven or twelve, just after her mother’s death, and that after that, she developed schizophrenia and was committed.
Dick goes to meet her and she wants to have a relationship with him, but he is apprehensive.
She meets him a few more times and makes clear her interest in him.
She leaves the clinic and seems to have regained her health. She meets Dick again and he falls for her completely and they decide to be together.
Then the narrative shifts to the first-person and Nicole narrates her life.
She and Dick are pretty happy, but after her daughter is born, she has a serious mental breakdown. Dick took her traveling to try to help.
They buy the house on the Riviera, where she intends to find a field of study, so she can focus on it when her mind attacks her.
She reveals that she has "already been" her son, and Dick, and others, making her illness explicit, from her own point of view.
Her narrative ends back on the beach where the novel started.
She and Dick are back at their Riviera home, after Paris, and things are pretty uneventful.
They go the Swiss Alps for the Christmas holidays, and when it is offered to him, Nicole encourages Dick to buy the clinic where they met.
She lives there with him for almost a year and a half, and their relationship is on shaky ground.
One day, she gets a letter from a patient of Dick’s, accusing him of seducing her teenage daughter. When Nicole asks him about it, he denies it, claiming the woman is just crazy.
Nicole freaks out at the fair that afternoon, and on the way home, she grabs the wheel while Dick is driving and tries to drive the whole family off a cliff.
We don’t really see much more of her until the final Book.
Dick is asked to sell his share of the clinic, and he does. He and Nicole go back to their home on the Riviera.
Their relationship is still on the rocks, and she is very happy when they run into Tommy Barban, who she hinted at being in love with in Book One.
She decides to make Tommy her lover and starts to feel as if she’s really "cured" for the first time.
She and Tommy make love and then she and Tommy tell Dick about it and Dick leaves.
At the end of the novel, Nicole has kept in touch with Dick, who has been struggling in the U.S. to practice. She still hopes that he will someday have the career he’s dreamed of