It is always glorious to encounter a book about a marriage that deftly side-steps all the “how-we-met” or “how-we-killed-each-other” tropes.
The Codes Of Love is an intimate, perhaps even voyeuristic, window to the ever-tantalising spectacle of an open marriage.
When Ryan proposed to Emily, he envisaged for them a traditional monogamous union, but she insisted on a series of rules. One of them marks the beginning of each chapter: “Rules of an open marriage #12: Have no secrets from one another”, “Rules of an open marriage #14: Never treat each other like second-class partners”.
Reader, it’s no spoiler to say that both Ryan and Emily break these rules, and that’s what makes this a story. The fine folks at Muswell Press, via Bloomsbury, were kind enough to send me a copy for review.
The Codes Of Love lands somewhere between Sally Rooney’s perennially popular Normal People and Simone de Beauvoir’s oft-overlooked She Came To Stay. When Ada sweeps into Ryan and Emily’s lives, she leaves a wake of deception and duplicity in her path.
The timeline does jump back and forth a bit as events unfold, but the story takes place over such a short period (and the events are so closely interwoven) that it never feels disorienting.
Steering clear of melodramatics and cliches, but always passionate, Pernaud delivers what she promises: “a page turning portrait of a contemporary marriage”.