The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

Posted in Books

I’ve noticed that my book reviews have been rather YA-heavy recently… *sweats nervously*… so today I am raising the tone and talking about a mature piece of work: The Course of Love by Alain de Botton.

Alain de Botton - The Course of Love - Famous in Japan

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

Publication Date: 28 April 2016
Publisher: Penguin

Rabih and Kirsten meet, fall in love, get married. Society tells us this is the end of the story. In fact, it is only the beginning. Over the years this ordinary couple will miscommunicate and misunderstand each other, will worry about money, will have first a girl and then a boy. One of them will have an affair, one will think about it. Both will have doubts. This will be the real love story. Twenty-first century depictions of love and marriage are shaped by a set of Romantic myths and misconceptions. With his trademark warmth and wit, Alain de Botton explores the complex landscape of a modern relationship, presenting a realistic case study for marriage and examining what it might mean to love, to be loved – and to stay in love.

Through blogging and YouTube, I have heard amazing things about an author called Alain de Botton.  Have you heard of him?  I feel like the only person who didn’t know who he was!  His work includes pieces such as “Essays in Love “and “How to Think More about Sex”. and they have been on my never ending “to be read” list for a while now – YA wont read and review itself!  When I received the opportunity to read his latest work, The Course of Love, I was ecstatic, and I couldn’t wait to finally see what Alain’s work was like for myself.

“In the moment he feels beyond doubt that this is the woman he wants to grow old with”

The Course of Love is Alain’s second fiction book, and is in a similar vein to his earlier work, “Essays in Love”; it looks at love and relationships in detail.   The way the story is told, it is almost like we are observing from a distance with Alain providing a deeper insight into their minds.  It isn’t told like a typical fiction novel, and at times reads like non-fiction.  Whilst this tone of narration and story telling wasn’t what I was expecting, it was actually better than my expectations.

“Love means admiration for qualities in the lover that promise to correct our weaknesses and imbalances; love is a search for completion”

Whilst the couple under the microscope,  Rabih and Kirsten, aren’t described in the same fashion as you would expect in a novel, we still get to know them in a sense.  They were both flawed, imperfect characters, yet not completely unlikeable, and their relationship was believable and genuine.    I can see a lot of readers relating to either Rabih or Kirsten.

I thought the style of writing of The Course of Love was poetic, although on the other hand there were times it was dramatic and superfluous.   I had to re-read some of the sentences a few times to make sense of it and understand it fully.  There were times that Alain could have just got to the point and stopped going round the houses, as my mum would say.  However, I have never highlighted so many quotes from a book before, which have definitely come in handy for this review.

“There is no one more likely to destroy us than the person we marry”

It’s hard to talk about The Course of Love in detail without spoiling it, but I will say that it was unique, and like nothing I have ever read before.  I therefore award it 4/5 stars.  It hasn’t become a favourite that I will return to time and time again, but I did enjoy it and it certainly gave me a lot to think about.   At 23 years old I have yet to experience marriage although this makes it sound wonderful and terrible all at the same time.   It appears I have a bumpy road ahead to look forward to, should I manage to lure some poor victim into marriage (haha!)  

I would recommend The Course of Love to those similar in age to me, and older.  I don’t think teenagers would fully appreciate this book and give it the time and full attention it requires.  I can’t believe I am recommending a book to adults, not teenagers!  What’s happening on my blog?    I’ll end this review with my favourite quote from the book.

“At the heart of a sulk lies a confusing mixture of intense anger and an equally intense desire not to communicate what one is angry about.  The sulker both desperately needs the other person to understand and yet remains utterly committed to doing nothing to help them do so.   The very need to explain forms the kernel of the insult; if the partner requires an explanation, he or she is clearly not worthy of one.   We should add that it is a privilege to be the recipient of a sulk: it means the other person respects and trusts us enough to think we should understand their unspoken hurt.  It is one of the odder gifts of love”

Have you ever read something by Alain de Botton?  What did you think?

Dannie x

A copy of The Course of Love by Alain de Botton provided in exchange for an honest review.  No further compensation received.

April 28, 2016
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1 Comment

  • Reply Kieron

    I love Alain – he’s a great writer and also incredibly charming too. Consolations of Philosophy was a great book and the series they made of it was great as well. Glad to read a very positive review of this also – looking forward to reading it when I get chance.

    April 28, 2016 at 8:25 pm
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