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Behave Hardcover – March 1, 2016 by Andromeda Romano-Lax

From the PublisherFrom 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.



Worth Getting in Bed For? Yes. Rosalie Rayner Watson comes to life through the pages of Romano-Lax’ s Behave. We see the character mature from an idealistic and entitled young woman to a harried young mother who realizes the choices for women who want it all, in the Twenties and thirties, are limited. At times, I simply forgot I was reading a book that wasn’t taking place right now as the story is still so relatable, right down to the male professor and/or executive and his power both in and out of the classroom or boardroom. The fact that this novel is based on real people and the theory of behaviorism, a seemingly flawed study, is all the more fascinating. This really is an interesting novel that is well worth the read.

Provided by NetGalley


About the Author. Born in 1970 in Chicago, Andromeda Romano-Lax worked as a freelance journalist and travel writer before turning to fiction. Her first novel, The Spanish Bow, was translated into eleven languages and was chosen as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, BookSense pick, and one of Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year. Her second novel, The Detour, was published in 2012, and her newest novel, Behave, an IndieNext pick, will be published in March 2016. Among her nonfiction works are a dozen travel and natural history guidebooks to the public lands of Alaska, as well as a travel narrative, Searching for Steinbeck’s Sea of Cortez: A Makeshift Expedition Along Baja’s Desert Coast, which was an Aububon Editor’s Choice. Andromeda lives with her family in Mexico and in Anchorage, Alaska, where she co-founded and now teaches for a nonprofit organization, the 49 Alaska Writing Center. She is also on faculty in the University of Alaska Anchorage low-residency MFA program.

Andromeda blogs at and enjoys hearing from readers.