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An incredibly compulsive, poignant exploration of marriage, lust, and ambition from one of America's great young literary talents, the Man-Booker Prize longlisted author of Work Like Any Other.
Doctor Ed Malinowski believes he has realized most of his dreams. A passionate, ambitious behavioral psychiatrist, 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 Behavior of Love is wise, riveting, and deeply resonant.
About the Author
Virginia Reeves is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Her debut novel, Work Like Any Other, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and Booklist named it to their Top 10 First Novels of 2016. Virginia lives with her husband and daughters in Helena, Montana, where she teaches writing and speech at Helena College. The Behavior of Love is her second novel.
Praise for The Behavior of Love
“Marital emotion boils within a cool experimental framework... the theme is carefully developed, pulling the reader toward the incomprehensible, the unintelligible...I won’t spoil the twist, but suffice it to say that Reeves wants to discover her characters’ stony places. She wants to explore what it feels like when the mind breaks, when language becomes a door swinging closed on meaning, and yet she is never so supple or interesting a writer as when she is tracing a character’s fugitive shreds of consciousness…But there is not just suffering here—there is also a deep saturation and beauty of experience.”
— The New Yorker
“A sensitive examination of love, responsibility, and compassion.”
"Enhanced by its particular time and place, this unique and uniquely compelling novel explores love, marriage, health, and agency in shifting phases."
“Readers who enjoy complex depictions of the lingering commitments of relationships will be swept away by Reeves’s crisp, powerful novel.”
— Publishers Weekly
“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
“Even-handed and sensitive, this psychologically acute novel is a compassionate reflection on the commitments we make, both professional and personal.”
"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."
— Brian Van Reet, author of Spoils
“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 Night Guest