by Andromeda Romano-Lax


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From the author of The Spanish Bow comes a lush, harrowing novel based on the real life story of Rosalie Rayner Watson, one of the most controversial scientists—and mothers—of the 20th century

“The mother begins to destroy the child the moment it’s born,”
wrote the founder of behaviorist psychology, John B. Watson, whose 1928 parenting guide was revered as the child-rearing bible. For their dangerous and “mawkish” impulses to kiss and hug their child, “most mothers should be indicted for psychological murder.”

Behave is the story of Rosalie Rayner, Watson’s ambitious young wife and the mother of two of his children.

In 1920, when she graduated from Vassar College, Rayner was ready to make her mark on the world. Intelligent, beautiful, and unflappable, she won a coveted research position at Johns Hopkins assisting the charismatic celebrity psychologist John B. Watson. Together, Watson and Rayner conducted controversial experiments on hundreds of babies to prove behaviorist principles. They also embarked on a scandalous affair that cost them both their jobs—and recast the sparkling young Rosalie Rayner, scientist and thinker, as Mrs. John Watson, wife and conflicted, maligned mother, just another “woman behind a great man.”

With Behave, Andromeda Romano-Lax offers a provocative fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson, a woman whose work influenced generations of Americans, and whose legacy has been lost in the shadow of her husband’s. In turns moving and horrifying, Behave is a richly nuanced and disturbing novel about science, progress, love, marriage, motherhood, and what all those things cost a passionate, promising young woman.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616956530
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Andromeda Romano-Lax is the author of The Spanish Bow, a New York Times Editors’ Choice that has been translated into 11 languages, and The Detour, as well as numerous works of nonfiction. She teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the University of Alaska Anchorage and is a co-founder of 49 Writers, a statewide literary organization. She lives on Vancouver Island.

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Part I

Excerpted from "Behave"
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Copyright © 2017 Andromeda Romano-Lax.
Excerpted by permission of Soho Press.
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Behave 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Tracey_L More than 1 year ago
Behave provided an interesting look at the life of Rosalie Rayner, a little known scientist associated with the famous behaviorist John Watson. She started as his assistant after graduation from Vassar, but was drawn to him through his somewhat Svengali-like ways and ended up having an affair with him, which ended with him divorcing his wife and marrying her, causing them no end of grief, with both losing their positions at Johns Hopkins and finding themselves somewhat shunned by the world for their socially unacceptable choices. I've never been much of a fan of John Watson, but this was an intriguing look at Ms. Rayner's life and what it was like living with the notoriously severe Watson. Ms. Romano-Lax did an excellent job of fleshing out what was undoubtedly a difficult research subject since there isn't much known about Rayner. The descriptions of life with Watson during the 1920's and '30's were well done and felt realistic. Her writing is strong and I would definitely look into other books by her. I was provided an ARC of Behave by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.