A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Friday, 15 April 2016

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton - Book review

As Alain de Botton returns to fiction 20 years after the publication of Essays in Love, this latest release is both accurate and heartfelt in its philosophical observations about  modern relationships.

As soon as we leave childhood and enter the adult world of relationships, we realise that, 'happily ever after,' is not the end of the story. Instead, this is merely the start of the adventure, and learning how to thrive and evolve as a couple can be infuriating and problematic, as well as ultimately worth fighting for.

The Course of Love follows the story of Rabih and Kirsten from the first time they meet and throughout the various stages of their relationship. No topic is off-limits in this perceptive read. Everything from the simplest decisions causing conflict, to insecurity and infidelity is explored in great depth - offering insight into why people behave the way they do. And if the media is guilty of portraying relationships as idealistic, this is a revelation for anyone who believes this to be true.

I found it hard to relate to The Course of Love as a novel. Instead, it felt more like a series of observational notes from the author. There were times when I found the narration patronising and personally, I'd have preferred more dialogue between the two main characters, as well as more humour.

There are also profound observations into the modern world of relationships and what it takes to keep a marriage going when real life takes over from the initial exhilaration and passion of those first few years. From the romantic view that marriage will be perfect, to how to survive when life gets in the way and challenges our beliefs and misconceptions about love, the book covers all aspects of relationships.

The final chapters are a revelation and I suspect that anyone who has been in a relationship for a while will recognise many of the scenarios explored throughout the book. It is reassuring for the reader to know that the perfect relationship is more a work of fiction, than something that is possible in real life. Instead, it's all about understanding what it means to love and be loved, and the many forms this can take.

A thought-provoking read.

Rating 3/5

Thanks to Penguin Books for the advance copy.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton


  1. Really interesting review. I an not an A de B fan. I kind of do not like relationship type novels, chic books. I want to escape when I read.

  2. Interesting book and you have reviewed it really well.

  3. I enjoyed reading this review. I've seen a few books by this author recently, in book shops and at a friend's house, so he has come into my awareness a bit of late. Maybe I should check this one out!

  4. I have to admit I've never been a fan of Alain de Botton! I guess if you've had complex relationships this could be a good book to try and relate it.

  5. Looks like an interesting book, not heard of this author before but will look out for him

  6. Sounds really interesting, if only I had the time to read real grown up books!

  7. Great review and it certainly sounds interesting, I just need to try and make some time for reading!

  8. Doesn't sound like a book for me, but you've written a balanced review.


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