Bibliophile | Hannah Persaud explores ‘The Codes of Love’

The Codes of Love
by Hannah Persaud
Muswell Press

It is 2015 and it looks as if London couple Emily and Ryan has it all – successful jobs, stunning house and the secret to a successful marriage. The kids have grown up and, while all the marriages within their circle of friends are crumbling, their ‘rules’ have kept their 22 year-old marriage solid.

Emily knows that it is not luck that that their marriage has continued to work. They have their fights, like anyone, but she doesn’t take Ryan for granted. “She knows it’s their arrangement that saves them from the tedium that fells so many of their peers, though she doesn’t say this.”

Emily, who teaches creative writing at UCL, insisted on an open marriage and architect Ryan, who admits to having a much lower libido than his partner, felt that Emily’s flings preserved their marriage. That was before the free-spirited Ada came into their lives and they were both drawn to her.

I love that each of the 25 chapters addresses one of the ‘rules of love’. They start off as rules to preserve the marriage while having an open relationship – such as never sleeping with the same person twice. Then, as Ada forces them both to start breaking the rules, the rules are more about respecting their relationship – such as not taking each other for granted and always putting family first.

As Emily and Ryan reveal their stories separately and in secret from each other, it seems that the rules are no match for the power of desire. There is always tension in relationships and, even though people are capable of loving each other intellectually without exclusivity, secrets and deception can corrode.

Unexpected twists force Emily and Ryan into unexplored territory and the tension is ramped up when Emily is stalked by one of her infatuated students. While Emily waits for his infatuation to run its course like a battery-powered train, the student is scarily persistent and threatens to derail her career and her life which has already headed off into uncharted territory.

The Codes of Love is an exciting and insightful journey into a contemporary marriage where all is not quite as perfect as it seems.

Lezly Herbert

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