Review: The Course of Love

The Course of Love – Alain de Botton

Penguin $37.00

I was driving with my boyfriend and his parents, and we were listening to a This American Life Podcast, and Ira Glass interviewed Alain de Botton on the topic of his most recent book. It was one of those honest and realistic talks about marriage that couples who have been married for a long time relish. The acknowledgement that marriage kind of sucks, and that it is largely not what you expected – and the importance of admitting that each person is a little crazy. His parents were laughing in agreement.

Philospher Alain de Botton’s second novel The Course of Love aims to inject a dose of heavy realism to the genre of love stories. The novel, which follows a couples descent into love, marriage, child rearing, affairs, and beyond, is interwoven with analysis from Botton, or at least some omniscient Psychological Love God. The analysis explains and explores things from the perspective of only one character – and while it sounds like a clunky insertion, it pays off tremendously well.

The presence of analysis makes you think yourself and how you relate other people, it’s like a mini therapy session.

An also the characters are so full developed, that sharing this journey with them becomes engrossing. Botton rightly indicates that most traditional narratives of love finish soon after they fall in love or get married, few delve into the mundanity of actually living in love. Botton brings the reader into this world skillfully.

 

Review by Jayne

 

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