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The Course of Love - Alain De Botton

Paperback

Published: 2nd May 2016
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Published: 28th April 2016
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What does it mean to live happily ever after?

At dinner parties and over coffee, Rabih and Kirsten's friends always ask them the same question: how did you meet? The answer comes easily - it's a happy story, one they both love to tell. But there is a second part to this story, the answer to a question their friends never ask: what happened next?

Rabih and Kirsten find each other, fall in love, get married. Society tells us this is the end of the story. In fact, it is only the beginning.

From the first thrill of lust, to the joys and fears of real commitment, to the deep problems that surface slowly over two shared lifetimes, this is the story of a marriage. It is the story of modern relationships and how to survive them. Playful, wise and profoundly moving, The Course of Love is a delightful return to the novel by Alain de Botton, twenty years after his debut Essays in Love.

Review by Caroline Baum

Alain de Botton puts marriage under the microscope in this witty, amusing and forensic analysis of a couple. Meet Rabih and Kirsten, a young professional married couple. They like having sex in semi-public places and going away for weekends. His job is precarious and she cares more about money than he does. Under de Botton’s merciless lens, all their foibles, qualities and flaws are enlarged for our entertainment. How compatible are they, really, once the first flush has worn off?

If this sounds like a brutal question, it is, but there are tender moments too, in this carefully shaped fable, designed to provide all the speed bumps and obstacles that a modern day relationship faces: boredom, lust, infidelity, money worries, and children.

De Botton constructs an elegant narrative designed to test his couple’s resilience and emotional intelligence, interweaving each chapter with objective, detached philosophical and psychological commentary. You might think this would pull you away from the narrative but it quickly becomes quite natural to zoom in and out from each scene. Of course, such probing begs questions of any married reader: Is honesty the best policy or are secrets the key to sustained harmony? Is being romantic helpful to long-term marital success? Answers: no, yes and no. More fun, more thought-provoking and better written than all the relationship self-help books out there.

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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
The Course of Love
 
4.1

(based on 10 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (5)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

90%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Deserves multiple readings (6)
  • Well written (5)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Gift (3)
  • Reference (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Everyday reader (5)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Read before you get married

I am a big fan of Alain De Botton so when this book came up I was extremely excited. What I liked the most out of the book is that it addressed ALL of...Read complete review

I am a big fan of Alain De Botton so when this book came up I was extremely excited. What I liked the most out of the book is that it addressed ALL of issues I have about modern day relationships (in general and in personal experiences). It addresses the pitfalls of Romanticism, how incredibly unrealistic it can be and how it can lead to problems in relationships. The book follows the relationship of a married couple and it is intertwined with philosophical teachings that address the issues the couple goes through. I found it to be quite insightful, relatable, and useful! I wish more people were interested in modern day philosophical teachings such as this!

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Overrated.

Obvious.

Obvious.

Reviewed by 10 customers

Displaying reviews 1-10

Back to top

 
5.0

A bookshelf staple

By 

from Sydney, Australia

About Me Everyday Reader

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Deserves Multiple Readings

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Gift
    • Reference

    Comments about The Course of Love:

    I am engaged and looking forward to marrying my fiance in 3 months. The perfect timing to read this book in preparation for our marriage. Although some might say it is rather pessimistic take on marriage and love, I expect realistic is a more appropriate description. I anticipate picking this book up again in future, as our relationship develops and evolves, and hopefully our family grows.

    Due to the beautifully designed cover, I am more than happy to keep this within easy reach.

    A brilliant gift for a newly engaged friend or relative, but a must-read for anybody.

     
    5.0

    Enlightening

    By 

    from Melbourne

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Deserves Multiple Readings
    • Page Turner
    • Well Written

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about The Course of Love:

        It was an eye opener to see my life unfold on the page and the truth of how all our lives can and do run. Certain sentences stay with you for a long time and bounce around in the subconscious. I will defiantly read this book time and time again.

         
        4.0

        60 characters! I cannot review this properly.

        By 

        from Pastoria, Victoria, Australia

        About Me Casual Reader

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Highlights the core of people that is best expos
        • Page Turner
        • Well Written

        Cons

          Best Uses

            Comments about The Course of Love:

            Alain has exposed the tip of the ice berg on people, exacerbated by the most universal disappointment " Marriage ". Occasionally it bored me as he dazzled with unnecessary peripherals. I did not like the main characters name. He managed to reveal the distinction between inevitable misery versus the mostly false illusion of infinite romantic love. It is why you become cynical about love. Alain endorses this truth so well.
            I commend him on turning these notions on its head.

             
            1.0

            Overrated.

            By 

            from Australia

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

              Cons

              • Disappointing

              Best Uses

                Comments about The Course of Love:

                Obvious.

                 
                5.0

                Buy it!

                By 

                from NSW Australia

                About Me Bookworm

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Deserves Multiple Readings
                • Well Written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Gift
                  • Older Readers
                  • Reference
                  • Special Needs
                  • Travel Reading

                  Comments about The Course of Love:

                  A book you need to read if you are married

                   
                  4.0

                  The reality of relationships

                  By 

                  from Sydney

                  About Me Everyday Reader

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                  • Deserves Multiple Readings

                  Cons

                  • Not What I expected

                  Best Uses

                    Comments about The Course of Love:

                    This book has some excellent insights about the nature of relationships but I found the storyline a bit forced and would have preferred the commentary bundled as non-fiction. Would still recommend to others - particularly those embarking on a new relationship or struggling with ongoing issues in an old relationship. A great book for a couple to read together and discuss.

                     
                    4.0

                    Relationship Textbook

                    By 

                    from Sydney, NSW

                    About Me Bookworm

                    Pros

                      Cons

                      • Not What I expected

                      Best Uses

                        Comments about The Course of Love:

                        I enjoyed this but I do prefer his non-fiction (The Consolations of Philosophy is magnificent). It is a novel with some helpful author notes to assist those using the book as an assist to their own relationship situations. There aren't too many situations that aren't covered here and he does a good job to hold the storyline through till the end. I enjoyed this because he writes well but it is different and it won't appeal to everyone.

                         
                        4.0

                        Thought provoking

                        By 

                        from Brisbane

                        About Me Everyday Reader

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Engaging Characters
                        • Well Written

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Older Readers

                          Comments about The Course of Love:

                          The book gets you thinking about relationships and realising a happy marriage should not be taken for granted. The book prompts deep thought.

                          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          4.0

                          Read before you get married

                          By 

                          from Sydney, Australia

                          About Me Casual Reader

                          Pros

                          • Deserves Multiple Readings

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                            • Anyone Really
                            • Gift
                            • Reference
                            • Younger Readers

                            Comments about The Course of Love:

                            I am a big fan of Alain De Botton so when this book came up I was extremely excited. What I liked the most out of the book is that it addressed ALL of issues I have about modern day relationships (in general and in personal experiences). It addresses the pitfalls of Romanticism, how incredibly unrealistic it can be and how it can lead to problems in relationships. The book follows the relationship of a married couple and it is intertwined with philosophical teachings that address the issues the couple goes through. I found it to be quite insightful, relatable, and useful! I wish more people were interested in modern day philosophical teachings such as this!

                            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            5.0

                            A treasure chest of wit, warmth and insights

                            By 

                            from New Zealand

                            About Me Everyday Reader

                            Pros

                            • Deserves Multiple Readings
                            • Engaging Characters
                            • Well Written

                            Cons

                              Best Uses

                              • All In A Relationshp

                              Comments about The Course of Love:

                              Fantastic read. In story form which I love. I was engaged with the characters from the first page.
                              Heaps of 'aha' moments - a super book.

                              Displaying reviews 1-10

                              Back to top

                              Publisher's description. Rabih and Kirsten meet, fall in love, get married. Think this is the end of the story? It's only the beginning. With his trademark warmth and wit, Alain de Botton explores modern relationships with a novel that asks what it truly means to love and to be loved. Penguin Anyone who is, has been, or would ever like to be, in a satisfying, successful relationship, would do well to read de Botton. A brave couple might even read it together Irish Independent Alain de Botton's gift is to prompt us to think about how we live -- Jeanette Winterson Curious, humorous and dazzling... It contains more human interest than most fiction -- John Updike on 'How Proust Can Change Your Life' His prose is lovely: clear, gently persuasive, light of touch Observer on Religion for Atheists Alain de Botton likes to take big, complex subjects and write about them with thoughtful and deceptive innocence Observer on The Architecture of Happiness Engaging, sympathetic, meticulous, acutely perceptive...There's a refreshing honesty in what De Botton has to say The Guardian Well-observed and imbued with a tenderness that feels authentic and uncynical. It may even save some marriages Evening Standard Thought-provoking... [a] worldly wise romance Mail on Sunday

                              Alain de Botton

                              Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1969 and now lives in London. He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a 'philosophy of everyday life. He’s written on love, travel, architecture and literature. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries. Alain also started and helps to run a school in London called The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education. Alain’s newest book is published in April 2009 and is titled The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

                              Alain started writing at a young age. His first book, Essays in Love [titled On Love in the US], was published when he was twenty-three. It minutely analysed the process of falling in and out of love, in a style that mixed elements of a novel together with reflections and analyses normally found in a piece of non-fiction. It's a book of which many readers are still fondest and it has sold two million copies worldwide.

                              It was with How Proust can change your Life that Alain's work reached a truly global audience. The book was a particular success in the United States, where the mixture of an ironic 'self-help' envelope and an analysis of one of the most revered but unread books in the Western canon struck a chord. It was followed by The Consolations of Philosophy, to which it was in many ways an accompaniment. Though sometimes described as popularisations, these two books were at heart attempts to develop original ideas (about, for example, friendship, art, envy, desire and inadequacy) with the help of the thoughts from other thinkers – an approach that would have been familiar to writers like Seneca or Montaigne and that disappeared only with the growing professionalisation of scholarship in the 19th century.

                              Alain then returned to a more lyrical, personal style of writing. In The Art of Travel, he looked at themes in the psychology of travel: how we imagine places before we have seen them, how we remember beautiful things, what happens to us when we look at deserts, or stay in hotels or go to the countryside. In Status Anxiety, he examined an almost universal anxiety that is rarely mentioned directly: the anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. In The Architecture of Happiness, Alain discussed questions of beauty and ugliness in architecture. Much of the book was written at de Botton's home in West London, just near Shepherd's Bush roundabout, one of the uglier man-made places, which nevertheless provided helpful examples of how important it is to get architecture right.

                              The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work saw Alain travelling across the world for two years with a photographer in tow, looking at people in their workplaces and reflecting on the great themes of work: why do we do it? How can it be more bearable? What is a meaningful life? The book is at once lyrical and gripping like a novel can be, and yet also packed with ideas and analysis.

                              In the summer of 2009, Alain was appointed Heathrow's first Writer-in-Residence and wrote a book about his experiences, A Week at the Airport

                              Aside from writing, de Botton has been involved in making a number of television documentaries - and now helps to run a production company, Seneca Productions.

                              In the summer of 2008, Alain realised a life-long dream when he helped to launch a miniature 'university' called The School of Life - which emulates the spirit of enquiry and playfulness found in his books and which aims not only to discuss life, but also change it for the better. Following on in this entrepreneurial vein, Alain has also helped to start a new organisation called Living Architecture which is building world-class modern architecture for rental around the UK. In 2009, Alain was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, in recognition of his services to architecture.



                              Follow Alain de Botton on Twitter

                              Customer Comment: He is the thinking woman's crumpet.

                              Visit Alain de Botton's Booktopia Author Page


                              ISBN: 9780241145487
                              ISBN-10: 0241145481
                              Audience: General
                              Format: Paperback
                              Language: English
                              Number Of Pages: 256
                              Published: 2nd May 2016
                              Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
                              Country of Publication: GB
                              Dimensions (cm): 16.0 x 23.4  x 1.9
                              Weight (kg): 0.32
                              Edition Number: 1