Love and Other Thought Experiments

Sophie Ward. Vintage, $16.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-31430-2
This intriguing debut from actor and philosophy scholar Ward reflects on relationships and reality with the story of a lesbian couple and others in their orbit. Each chapter begins with a philosophical concept, such as Pascal’s wager, which posits that the gain of believing in God outweighs the risk of not. Ward ties the concept directly to the plot, as with Eliza, who weighs the costs and benefits of believing her partner, Rachel, when she says an ant has entered her brain through her eye. The novel continues with vignettes about others in the couple’s lives, such as their exterminator, Ali, who had a near-death experience as a child; Rachel’s mother, Elizabeth, who ran away to Brazil to avoid her discomfort with having a lesbian daughter; and the couple’s son, Arthur, who is raised by Eliza after Rachel dies from a brain tumor. Halfway through, Ward takes a metaphysical turn, entering the point of view of the ant inside Rachel’s head while exploring David Chalmers’s p-zombie theory, which explains that consciousness is not tied to the human body. The conceptual jumps can feel scattered and forced, but the author’s grasp on the ideas at play effectively and poignantly connects readers with the characters’ grief. For the most part, Ward’s weird experimental meld is effective. Agent: Laura Macdougall, United Agents. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/21/2021
Release date: 09/28/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-4721-5459-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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