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on 27 March 2002
This really is the most increible book. Charting a relationship from start to finish, the author manages to capture the heart of human relationships with amazing insight.
The novel is so true to life that I found myself mirrored within the pages of the novel and I am sure I am not the only one.
This book is wonderful, truly. If you are contemplating buying one of Alain de Botton's novels, start with this one.
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on 26 June 2005
Alain de Botton's 'Essays in Love' is a thought-provoking masterpiece in the description of western society's most powerful emotion. The analysis of the stages of his love affair with Chloe are fresh in viewpoint and full of the dissection needed to conquer such an emotive topic without ever becoming suffocatingly sickly. If you've ever fallen in love and have wondered whether feelings of inadequacy are unique then you should read this. It combines a beautifully penned introduction to European philosophy with a thorough scrutiny of love that will provide a real truth to an experience often impossible to analyse on a personal basis. I loved this book almost as much as the woman who recommended it.
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on 25 November 2001
This is one of the most wonderful books I have ever read. It will no doubt remain my breaking up bible. Alain de Botton captures the thoughts that each and every one of us have when we find someone, fall in love and lose them. It reminds us there is hope and that we are not alone. More than this though it is honestly a fantastic book, just to read, and to enjoy
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on 24 November 2015
De Botton, Alaine. Essays in Love

In her introduction to de Botton’s book (Picador Classics) Sheila Heti begins, ‘Essays in Love has been classified as a novel, but it’s a very strange novel.’ It is, she says, ‘a guide through the landscape of contemporary romance.’ In the book de Botton makes a habit of reflecting on a previous paragraph telling the story of (presumably his) love affair with Chloe, a woman whom he meets by chance sitting next to him on a Paris-London flight. Thus the novel-memoir seems at times to be a mere jumping of point to a profound analysis of the trite business of falling in love - and of course inevitably the disillusion inherent in that commonplace but unique event.

I must confess that I am often puzzled by the memoir genre - how much is ‘true’ and how much falsified for the sake of art? In books about love affairs, which this absolutely is, how constant is the point of view? How can the reader believe in the ‘facts’ as retailed by the narrator? Well, de Botton (who wrote this book in his early twenties) does a masterly job of analysing the ebb and flow of desire, beginning with rapture over finding that the lovers have so much in common that some supernatural agency must have pre-determined their meeting. ‘I love chocolate, don’t you?’ asked Chloe. ‘I can’t understand people who don’t like chocolate.’ Well, the narrator, the ‘I’ in the story, de Botton or a version of him, hates chocolate: ‘I had been more or less allergic to chocolate all my life.’ So of course in the ‘story’ the narrator has to lie, or else run the risk of losing the ‘angel’ as Chloe is soon to become. This is the key to the novel, focusing on a mundane preference and lying about one’s true feelings. It’s what we all would do in the circumstances. It’s both true to life, and perfect for art. Now, whether the ‘real’ de Botton likes or hates chocolate is a moot point, one which the reader should not, according to convention at least, ask.

What I liked about the story (I almost said ‘loved’ but then recalled de Botton’s complex of analyses of the word) and about the philosophical commentary that accompanies it is its lucidity, its honesty about feeling and beliefs, those transient markers we cling to - and eventually are obliged to release from our grasp. But the book is not all Freudian or Marxian analysis (Marx is the term confusingly used in the book to refer to Marx the comedian) but a moving and totally convincing ‘love story,’ telling it like it is, a rare thing in fiction.
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on 23 May 2016
An easily-digestable and refreshingly enjoyable format. His intimate and well-presented narrative coupled with his philosophizing of the ordeals of falling in-and-out of love makes this book a truly unique experience.
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on 29 June 2016
Always like AdB's style, and this is a very well written "novel" although it could be confused for autobiographical experience. Written with a presence that makes it real and filled with many truisms about the rollercoaster of love. Well done Alain.
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on 30 June 2005
i first read this book by accident 3 years ago when it picked me in the library!!! A philosohical journey through the peaks and troughs of love and all that it brings.beautifully written ,raw in parts it stirred up a myriad of emotions from sadness to mirth, from despair to hope. some of it frightened me to death (love can sometimes be transparent and fickle). This book was soo very personal too me i never recommended it to anyone else for fear they would not enjoy the beauty of not just the written words , but that which remains unspoken. recently i did recommend it to someone i" marshmallow" and sure enough he loved it. its not everybodys read mind , one of those dolly mixture books either u love it or u dont!!!! and we all have our favourite bits.!!!
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on 6 May 1999
The title doesn't exactly give it away, but de Botton's novel owes much to Stendhal's "Love". A charmingly told tale of falling in and out of love, it combines the erudition that de Botton has made part of his style (especially in "How Proust Can Change Your Life") with a modern romance told with humour and grace. Reviewed like this, it doesn't sound that impressive - but read "Essays in Love" and you'll soon be grabbing at everything else this brilliant young author has written - I did, and I've yet to be disappointed by him.
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on 18 December 2015
While the title is nauseous, Alain manages to more than redeem the book with a thoughtful and objective assessment of the entirely subjective experience of a romantic relationship. At times I was disturbed that this man seemed to be able to read my mind, but mostly I was frustrated that he could express so many of the things I've felt in a way that is lucid, eloquent and accurate while I remain incapable of expressing even my mildest feelings to another human being.
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on 2 November 2000
This is a great book for those that think a little too much about what is really going on when what should be happening is spontaneous and unplanned. I wasn't really sure when I started reading it but its written in a really nice way, while also being a challenging read. There are many questions in and I found myself smiling at the ideal situations found in the book. In a word 'nice'.
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