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The Course of Love Hardcover – 28 Apr 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (28 April 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241145473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241145470
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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)

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)

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)

Thought-provoking... [a] worldly wise romance (Mail on Sunday)

Well-observed and imbued with a tenderness that feels authentic and uncynical. It may even save some marriages (Evening Standard)

About the Author

Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1969. He is the author of Essays in Love, The Romantic Movement, Kiss and Tell, How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel, Status Anxiety, The Architecture of Happiness, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, A Week at the Airport, Religion for Atheists, How to Think More About Sex, Art as Therapy, and The News: A User's Manual. Alain is a bestselling author in 30 countries. Alain de Botton lives in London, where he runs The School of Life and Living Architecture. The Course of Love is his first novel in nearly two decades.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is quite a short book, but it took me a while to read. There are two reasons.

1) Some parts of the book felt really invasive or voyeuristic. Reading about the characters and their lives was a very powerful, but also uncomfortable experience. I found I could only read some parts of the book in very small sections before the intensity got to me and I had to step away.

2) The book sometimes slipped into very philosopher-ey type writing with very long sentences full of clauses, sub-clauses and sub-sub-clauses. I've always baulked at sentences like that (I once had to proofread a long legal document which was full of this kind of language, it took *forever*!). I found that I needed to have space and time to read this book and do it justice, but I felt that some of these points could have been made much more strongly with a bit of restructuring of these parts.

However, the book was very well written and is one I would recommend widely. I also think it is probably one of those books that you could get something different from if you read it at different times in your life, and at different stages in your relationships. I am sure it would have felt like a very different book if I had read it 15 years ago when I had just got married, 10 years ago when I was on the verge of becoming a parent.

I read it as one of our book group books, and I think it makes an excellent book for such a purpose as everyone is likely to get something different out of it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be stocked in jewellers, and given out free with every engagement or wedding ring. So insightful on love and marriage. His explanation of 'Transference' - how patterns of behaviour from our earlier lives can recreate themselves in our adult relationships,will help lots of couples understand what is really going on between them. I read it after my wife and I split up. If we'd both read it while still in our relationship, I suspect we'd still be together. A brilliant read, even better than his previous look at relationships - Essays in Love.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was my first Alain De Botton read, and will surely lead me to his other works. Once you are into this book you will suddenly realise the clever word play of the title; what you have is a novel charting the course of a couple's love interspersed with counsel on love. The ingenuity of the segue between the two is both elegant and, at times, revelatory.

For me, the couple are so easy to identify with. Their strengths, their faults, their thought processes. So many of those times in your life when you think your stance might be wrong, but you've stuck to your own stubborn belief in being right anyway? All in here. The emotions of first falling in love. The decision-making process for getting married. The mistakes made. It all felt so real.

I suspect that there will be some nay sayers about the style of this book, but for me its genius is the very style that De Botton has chosen and its clarity. It is a deceptively easy read, but don't mistake that for simplicity. What Jane Austen may have taken ten chapters and fifty-thousand words to say, De Botton gets across in a few paragraphs. There are passages in here that will make you stop and re-read them again and again for the insight they give into life and love. As an emotionally-inhibited man, or should that just be "as a man", this book gave me insight into my own and others' behaviour in my life and perhaps could have changed its course had I read it sooner.

Buy it. Give it. It could change lives. For the better.
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By Rough Diamond TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 May 2016
Format: Hardcover
This is not a novel. It is, at best, an extended case study, through which the author explores a few of his pet theories, such as (i) we're all a bit mad, really (ii) the idea of romantic love doesn't help: it's just an ideology, and one that only makes us even crazier (iii) John Bowlby's work on attachment theory explains all this pretty well (iv) if we want to check this out for ourselves, a bit of couples therapy might be a good place to start, or (v) alternatively, we could all take a leaf out of the ancient Greeks' book, especially the Stoics.

It's not a novel because De Botton's exploration of these ideas ignores the novelist's most basic injunction: show, don't tell. De Botton tells, at length; crowding his own characters out of the narrative with his own all-knowing authorial voice, reducing them to the status of specimens on a Petrie dish, which he holds aloft professorially for our further enlightenment. Worse, once De Botton tires of telling, he commentates, in the form of the trite, italicised homilies that punctuate the text with dismaying frequency, just in case those of us snoozing at the back are missing the point of his lecture. In fact, perhaps The Course of Love is actually the name of a study option at De Botton's School of Life, and this is its core textbook. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Maybe this odd, didactic approach to novel-writing has spared the book from being even worse than it already is. De Botton simply cannot write dialogue. On the rare occasions that his characters manage to get a word in edgewise, we find to our dismay that they talk exactly like Alain De Botton, in a calm, measured, prolix and slightly patronising monotone, even when they are supposed to be really angry.
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