An attempt to explain the mysteries of love in biological and psychological terms.
Marshall’s nonfiction debut seeks to dispel the mysticism and inaccuracy that has, in his opinion, clouded discussion of love throughout human history. He attributes much of the inaccuracy to the fact that humans were experiencing love and writing about it for millennia before they were able to understand the most basic science of attraction and desire. In his quest to demystify his subject and “put the theory of love into practice,” Marshall is often blunt, such as when he writes that “feelings are the messages from our DNA of what we should do, directly or indirectly, to spawn the next generation.” However, the author saves his analysis from degenerating into mere deterministic materialism by pointing out that humans aren’t simply imagining such intangibles as affection or trust, and that they’re right to value such things for emotional and pragmatic reasons. He follows his inquiry into troubling concepts, such as how loneliness can lead some people into the self-destructive pursuit of unhealthy relationships—a particularly insightful section. Marshall’s prose is clear and straightforward, smoothly untangling complex subjects and shedding light on apparent contradictions; at one point, for example, he writes that “couples and families can be physically together but emotionally alone,” while also stressing the scientific aspects of love and connection. Readers who are partial to the romance of love may find some of his conclusions disillusioning, but Marshall’s discussions of the societal and evolutionary advantages of love are worthwhile.
A straight-talking and frequently eye-opening discourse on the true nature of love.