Lucy Beresford

A Sense of Healing

The Idea of Love


Louise Dean’s third novel is a careful dissection of our search for love in its many forms – sexual, religious, parental, and brotherly.

Richard, an Englishman living in France, is a philandering sales rep for a company selling psychiatric drugs. Promoted to cover Africa, he experiences at first hand the way the medical fraternity can pathologise understandable human behaviour. Newly cuckolded and on sick leave, Richard is being treated for a nervous breakdown (with a nice tinge of irony) by the same drugs he once sold. Africa also triggers the breakdown of Rachel’s marriage to Jeff. Wearing her Christianity heavily, Rachel gets sucked into a child adoption scam in Sierra Leone. Jeff seeks solace in the arms of Richard’s French wife, Valerie; and Richard starts to fall, if not at first for Rachel, then for the clear convictions of her faith. Observing this double adultery are Guy and Simone (Valerie’s parents), Max (Richard and Valerie’s son) and Maud (Rachel and Jeff’s daughter).

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,