The Codes of Love by Hannah Persaud

My thanks to both the author and the publisher who provided me with an ebook for review. This review forms my honest opinion.


Ryan and Emily appear to have it all, successful jobs, a beautiful house and the secret to a happy marriage. A secret that involves certain ‘rules’.

Beneath the surface trouble is brewing in the shape of Ada. Whimsical, free spirited and beholden to no-one, she represents the freedom Emily s been striving for and the escape that Ryan didn’t know he wanted. As they are separately (and secretly) drawn to her, things start to unravel. The rules are still the rules, to be taken seriously, not to be broken….


I admit to being absolutely fascinated with the idea of marriage, family and the different ways in which the traditional has been adapted to survive modern thinking and circumstances. Whilst I’m very traditional in that sense, I do enjoy being challenged by different viewpoints. For that reason I was drawn to The Codes of Love, where the two main characters Ryan and Emily have an open marriage.

It is an exploration of their choice, and of the very institution of marriage itself. I found it an interesting turn of events that it was Emily who had insisted on their marriage being open; the set of rules being made into vows on their wedding day (and also serving as chapter headings throughout). It’s such an interesting concept – the whole point of their marriage being open was to ensure their marriage would last, and yet their vows seem more like a business transaction than a promise of love. The question is therefore begged – what is the basis of a good marriage? Love – intangible and often frivolous? Or is it two people with a common goal committed to standing beside one another in recognition of one anothers needs?

It doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? And that is evident throughout. There is a sense of cool distance between Ryan and Emily, and I found it interesting that as their memories of their past came forth that the keenness for the marriage to be an open one was not entirely mutual and as the years have rolled by their willingness to take advantage of the arrangement is very mismatched and you can feel the simmering resentment grow between them.

Despite that, there are elements of Emily’s argument that I understand, and the book in its entirety gives pause for thought, that perhaps we shouldn’t accept what is ‘traditional’ at face value, perhaps we should tamper with it until it suits. What becomes clear however is that the ability to be honest and transparent between one another is the true basis of marriage.

The Codes of Love is a simply brilliant novel. I found myself completely immersed in the increasingly complex relationship between the three key characters, Ryan, Emily and Ada. Ada, a work colleague of Ryan’s, becomes embroiled in an affair with him, whilst also becoming secretly involved with Emily. Ada is entirely free spirited and as time went on I really began to dislike her character. As the past and present collide we learn just how complicated it all is.

The non-linear narrative jumps around in time a fair bit, but although there were times I wished I was reading a paperback so I could easily flick back, it didn’t impede my enjoyment. The shift and development of the characters, the exploration of who they are and why they are the way they are, was impressive. They felt well rounded and entirely believable.

My only slight niggle was the ending. It felt a bit abrupt and I wanted more of a resolution from it. However, I do know that I’m a bit boring and like to have my endings gift wrapped with a bow on top – it’s very much a personal preference for me, but I will hastily add that in my opinion this is still a flipping brilliant read!

I absolutely loved this novel – and it comes very highly recommended from me. An exploration of the complexity of human nature in modern society – it’s both immersive and stunning. I will eagerly be anticipating future releases from Hannah Persaud.

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