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The Behaviour of Love

From 2016 Man Booker longlisted Virginia Reeves comes a moving and riveting new novel about the head doctor of a mental institution whose marriage and job come under threat when he and a younger patient develop a relationship.

Doctor Ed Malinowski believes he has realized most of his dreams. A passionate, ambitious behavioural psychologist, he is now the superintendent of a mental institution and finally turning the previously crumbling hospital around. He also has a home he can be proud of, and a fiercely independent, artistic wife Laura, whom he hopes will soon be pregnant.

But into this perfect vision of his life comes Penelope, a beautiful, young epileptic who should never have been placed in his institution and whose only chance at getting out is Ed. She is intelligent, charming and slowly falling in love with her charismatic, compassionate doctor. As their relationship grows more complicated and Laura stubbornly starts working at his hospital, Ed must weigh his professional responsibilities against his personal ones and find a way to save both his job and his family.

A love triangle set in one of the most chaotic, combustible settings imaginable, The Behaviour of Love is an incredibly compulsive, poignant exploration of marriage, lust, and ambition from one of America's great young literary talents.

Praise for The Behaviour of Love:

“[Reeves] is never so supple or interesting a writer as when she is tracing a character’s fugitive shreds of consciousness...' The New Yorker

“Reeves alternates between Ed and Laura’s perspectives in cunning ways, creating the rippling effect of a rushing river, as love flows and ebbs over a decade. With exquisite craft, she traces a connection that transcends divorce and Ed’s own mental decline from an aneurysm to that point when he ‘stands in every place, all those doors in his head thrown wide open.’” Entertainment Weekly

“A sensitive examination of love, responsibility, and compassion.” Kirkus

“The Behavior of Love is an extraordinarily moving novel. The way it takes such unexpected leaps into the mysteries of the human mind, doing so with remarkable insight and compassion, is breathtaking. A truly impressive feat of the imagination” Fiona McFarlane, author of The High Places and The Night Guest

“This book is staggering and devastating and stupefying. You love and hate the characters at once... absolutely stunning.” Nathaniel Janes, composer and songwriter, Mountainsides

“Even-handed and sensitive, this psychologically acute novel is a compassionate reflection on the commitments we make, both professional and personal.”Esquire

“[W]hen love ends in frustrated, sad, even bitter disappointment, what does that really mean? Does it, in fact, end? Or are certain behaviors, once learned, irrevocably etched into our psyches? This is a novel to consider and reconsider, insightful and thoughtful . . . It’s the kind of novel you don’t forget.” New York Journal of Books

“Is love all in our heads or is there such a thing as chemistry? Can we control our desires? Should we? Virginia Reeves toys with commitment and lust in another compelling novel. The Behavior of Love is quietly surprising and will make you catch your breath more than once.” Helen Ellis, author of American Housewife

“The Behavior of Love gripped me from its opening pages and never let go. As compelling, psychologically complex and unpredictable as a real-life love affair, this book is also a profound statement on the limits of rationality and our societal institutions. Virginia Reeves made waves with her first novel, and rightfully so. This one is even better. ” Brain Van Reet, author of S

Agent: Peter Straus
Other Virginia Reeves Titles