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Review: Behave

August 16, 2016


Rosalie Rayner graduated from Vassar in 1919 and then enrolled in Johns Hopkins University to further her education.  It was there she encountered John Watson, the founder of Behaviorist psychology.  Rosalie became his graduate assistant and helped him with his well-known “Little Albert” experiments.  The two later became lovers and eventually married but their life was far from easy.

Behave by Andromeda Roman-Lax is the historical fiction story of Rosalie Rayner.  Rosalie was an unusual woman with her education and ambition.  When John Watson singled her out for attention and chose her to be his graduate assistant, it seemed her life and career were on track.  She assisted Watson with many studies, including those where they fear conditioned an infant named Albert.  The study was groundbreaking at the time but later came under criticism.  When Rosalie became involved with the married Watson, it created quite a scandal, and they both lost their jobs.  He obtained a divorce and the two married but their life together was always tumultuous.

I’d never heard of Rosalie Rayner, John Watson, or behaviorist psychology and I found this book oh so fascinating!  Rosalie seemed poised for a great career until she met Watson and all of her plans were derailed.  The two had a passionate but stormy relationship that didn’t seem well suited for the domestic life they tried to settle into.

It’s obvious Romano-Lax thoroughly researched her subject before writing Behave.   I thought the book was well written and  provided just enough back story to fill readers in.  I want to know more now and have Googled Rayner and Watson several times since reading this great book.  Pick this one up if you enjoy historical fiction, psychology, and/or relationship stories.

Review copy provided by Soho Press.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2016 6:52 am

    I think this sounds really good!

  2. bookingmama permalink
    August 16, 2016 7:47 am

    Wow! Sounds fascinating. Like you, I wasn’t familiar with this story!

  3. Beth F permalink
    August 16, 2016 9:26 am

    I never heard of Rayner before but this sounds like a great read. My mom was a psychology major — I wonder if she knows this story.

  4. August 16, 2016 9:26 am

    Wow. This looks very interesting. How did you come across it?

  5. August 16, 2016 12:52 pm

    I read about John Watson when I studied psychology, but hadn’t heard anything about his personal life, which is understandable. This book sounds fascinating.

  6. August 16, 2016 2:21 pm

    I am not familiar with these people either. Psychology is such an interesting area of study.

  7. August 16, 2016 3:12 pm

    this sounds like a goodie!

  8. August 16, 2016 3:16 pm

    also googled them now. not sure how happy I feel about them now!

  9. August 16, 2016 3:54 pm

    I remember reading about this in psychology class years ago. This would be interesting

  10. August 16, 2016 4:03 pm

    I have not heard of her either

  11. August 17, 2016 3:40 pm

    I haven’t heard of these two particular people either. I do remember studying about behaviorist psychology many years ago. I think I’d enjoy this book. (I’ll have to admit that, to me, John Watson will always be Sherlock Holmes sidekick.)

  12. August 21, 2016 4:58 pm

    I haven’t heard of these people either … but your review has enticed me to want to learn more 🙂

  13. August 21, 2016 6:49 pm

    I have an undergraduate degree in psychology so I know about the Little Albert studies, but wasn’t too familiar with the people behind them! This sounds like exactly the kind of book I’d love. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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