Weidenfeld & Nicolson has pre-empted forensic psychotherapist Anna Motz's professional memoir If Love Could Kill: The Myth and Truth of Women's Violence.
Editorial director Maddy Price acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Adam Gauntlett of Peters Fraser & Dunlop. US rights were acquired by Vicky Wilson at Knopf.
If Love Could Kill will look at the roots and motivations of female violence through a series of "deeply affecting" case studies, all based on real life therapy sessions conducted by Motz, who has worked with violent women in prisons, hospitals and the community for over 30 years.
The publisher explained: "Through 10 stories of how ordinary women came to commit extreme acts including cruelty, torture and murder, Motz sheds light on women’s capacity for evil. She takes the reader on a journey into psychotherapy, uncovering their motives and the fault lines in their psyche that led to these acts. Motz explores the dance between patient and therapist, the tortuous pathways to recovery and understanding, and offers the reader a rare glimpse inside the world of the forensic psychotherapist as she tackles the question: how can seemingly ordinary women come to do unspeakably evil things? What does it take to redeem them?"
Price said: "Anna’s book and the stories of the women she introduces us to are incredibly powerful, even shocking. These are women who have committed terrible, sometimes unimaginable crimes. But through thoughtful storytelling, deep compassion and sensitive, intelligent writing Anna looks beyond the shocking details, to the women themselves, their history and the impact societal expectations have placed on their lives. This is a book about extremes, but one which will resonate with all of us."
Motz commented: "Society believes that women are gentler than men, ruled by maternal instinct, nurturing, caring. But just like men, they are capable of terrible crimes that ruin lives, including their own. Female violence is a truth too uncomfortable for most to consider: a taboo that offends the idealised notion of women. But this state of ignorance and denial carries costs, and society cannot help people it refuses to understand. I hope that my book will help to redress this balance, and that in sharing the stories of these women, as well as my own experiences, we can work towards a greater understanding of violent women and their histories."
W&N will publish If Love Could Kill in spring 2023.