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The Course of Love

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  25,412 ratings  ·  2,744 reviews
"An engrossing tale that provides plenty of food for thought" (People, Best New Books pick), this playful, wise, and profoundly moving second novel from the internationally bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life tracks the beautifully complicated arc of a romantic partnership.

The long-awaited and beguiling second novel from Alain de Botton that tracks the be
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 28th 2016 by Hamish Hamilton (first published March 2016)
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Popular Answered Questions
A.M. Sommers If this book were required reading for couples, the divorce rate would go down.
R.A. Dalkey You mean, where can you enjoy an author's many months of hard labour without thinking he deserves to be paid a couple of dollars for it?

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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  25,412 ratings  ·  2,744 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Update: This is a $1.99 Kindle special right now. Personally... I think all young couples would find value in this book. I have the download too ... I still wish to own a physical copy. I've seen the hardcopy. It's beautiful.

Wonderful! Wonderful! *Extraordinary*!!!!!

I sooooo want a copy of this PHYSICAL BOOK!!

I have the hardest time writing reviews for books I love the most.

There are literally dozens and dozens and dozens of passages I want to highlight...but realized that wouldn't be possible
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I know what I think about The Course of Love, but I'm not sure how I feel about it. I do know that I feel like an outlier because clearly de Botton is loved by many and already many GR friends have responded very positively to this book. The Course of Love focuses on the relationship between Rabih and Kristen from the time they meet to 13 years or so into their marriage. There are two narrative strings. The first is told from Rabih and Kristen's perspective, and takes us through a gamut of event ...more
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: credshelf
C'est tellement simple, l'amour. Jacques Prévert

Profound Truths of Marriage (and Human Nature)

Through a Scottish couple, Rabih and Kirsten, de Botton dissects love and marriage. From the seeds of love planted when we are teens to dating to wedding to kids then through adultery and counseling for anxious and avoidant attachment arising from childhoods in which each lost a parent young, de Botton tells their story which he mixes with profound truths about human nature and the mountainous terra
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Once, early on in my marriage, my husband and I had a particularly intense fight over a ridiculously trivial matter. I barely remember the topic – something about where to hang some artwork – but I vividly recall that frightening feeling that I had made a ghastly mistake in joining our futures together.

Enter Alain De Botton. I wish I could advise my younger self to have read his book. De Botton employs an everyman and everywoman – in this case, Rahib, a non-religious budding architect from Beiru
Holly Bourne
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book should be compulsory reading before ANYONE gets married. I adored it. The last two chapters in particular were just astounding and beautiful and poignant and WISE. I wasn't a huge fan of 'Essays' - although it was still a remarkable achievement for a twenty-something's debut. But in The Course Of Love, Alain's life experience and wisdom really shines through. It's perfect.

The perfect antidote to what we're told Love *is* from the movies. And yet, never cynical. Truly remarkable.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
How can a book be enlightening and, at the same time, irritating? That must be a feat in itself, so I guess that's something.

I've been aware of Alain de Botton for years. I've watched most of his documentaries, TED talks, I even follow him on Twitter. So when I saw that there was a new book, a novel, I immediately requested it.

This book is definitely different. It's penned as a fiction novel, but is it really? The fiction part, the story of Rabih and Kirsten, was more of a conduit for the author
Leo Robertson
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Still wonderfully insightful and I can still recommend it. It's as searingly honest as anything, but doesn't feel the need to see the negative of life in a negative light. Nor a positive one. Like shining all colours on life so it looks all washed out and white. But true.

This is as patently revealing of a novel's intent and structure as any work can be, and so it's no surprise that it directs its characters towards more disaster and conflict than might be necessarily realistic, bec
Vicky "phenkos"
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
At around 30%, I'm not sure whether to DNF the book or keep going. It's not that the book is badly written, or that it has no intrinsic interest. On the contrary, de Botton touches on an issue that I think is under-estimated and worth talking more about: what happens to love when a couple moves from the heady days of falling in love and wanting to spend more time together -- in fact, to spend their whole lives together -- to actually doing just that, i.e. navigating a closeness that shoves them ...more
Love reaches its peak when it is proved that the loved one understands, more clearly than others have ever been able to, maybe even ourselves - those parts of us that are chaotic, embarrasing and shameful.

"The Course of Love " - is a stenic book, which proposes a detached and not at all conventional contemplation of love.
One question that is most often asked is " how did they get to know each other ? " - a question that dissatisfies with the exaggerated importance given to the beginning.
The s
Laura Spira
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
The idea behind this book - to invent a pair of characters and to consider the nature of love by tracing their experience from first meeting through the first sixteen years of their marriage - is an interesting conceit. De Botton conducts a forensic analysis of their relationship, principally through the eyes of the husband, interjecting further thoughts on the nature of love at frequent points in the narrative (I found that the authorial voice became very irritating by the middle of the book.)

Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Love means admiration for qualities in the lover that promise to correct our weaknesses and imbalances; love is a search for completion."
- Alain de Botton, The Course of Love

An interesting approach to the genre. This could have been an interesting book that explores relationships and love through all the stages, but Botton enjoys approaching things with a bit of novelty. And, for the most part, it works. Instead of breaking sections down by stage/ages, Botton uses two characters and their devel
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it

Alain de Botton maneuvers the reader through time, using a fictionalized couple, Rabih and Kirsten, a perfectly average, normal, couple living mediocre lives from the time before they meet, and after. Interspersed are de Botton’s philosophies that are relevant to this particular point in their lives, going through the years, from the beginning, growing attraction through those early years of parenting young children to reflecting back through the years, where they’ve fallen off course, where the
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Netgalley for this copy. I LOVE Alain de Botton. I wonder what it would be like to have a relationship with someone with that much insight into the human condition?! In this book he examines the flaws of Romanticism in love. He does this through observing the emergence of a couple ,Rabih and Kirstin.
All the way through the book I completely agreed with all his observations, so astute they made me squirm..
One of the main problems with romanticism is that often only the beginning of a r
Anne Bogel
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while I stumble upon a book that completely and unexpectedly wows me.

In this novel, De Botton tells the story of a completely ordinary couple through a blend of philosophy and fiction, which might strike you as either as dead-boring or disastrous, but I loved it.

And when I say "loved," I mean I found it interesting, engaging, thought-provoking, and well-written. I didn't always agree with his conclusions, and some episodes made me cringe, but I always admire a work that accompl
Lyn Elliott
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I felt at the end of this that I hadn't read a novel at all, but an extended hypothetical case study on what couples need to consider once the first fine flush of Romantic Love has faded. The story of Rabih and Kirsten seems constructed to provide opportunities to present the reader with careful reflections, mostly cautionary in nature, on the traps that beset the best intentioned couples.
It does seem a bit odd to me that the characters could be in their early thirties and still not know about s

Description: Rabih and Kirsten meet, fall in love, get married. Society tells us this is the end of the story. In fact, it is only the beginning. Over the years this ordinary couple will miscommunicate and misunderstand each other, will worry about money, will have first a girl and then a boy. One of them will have an affair, one will think about it. Both will have doubts. This will be the real love story. Twenty-first century depictions of love and marriage are shaped by a set of Romantic myth
Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Dispassionate, like a wildlife documentary on human love and relationships but very spot on and relatable as well - 3.5 stars is a skill, not just an enthusiasm.

The premise of The Course of Love starts of that where most love stories end, with happily ever after, is where real love starts. It's like an inversion of the idea Italo Calvino had in If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, not focussing on starting but on how a relation needs to be nurtured further to be successful. I am rather sur
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has/had relationships
Shelves: psychology
This book is like an applied lesson of psychology: it has great insights about how to make a couple survive and how our childhoods determine patterns of behaviour in our adult lives. However, Alain de Botton has a great article on closeness that I happened to read before and this book is just the extended version of it. Also, although the information you get from it is priceless, from a literary point of view this book is not very good. Hence, the 3 stars.
Jaclyn Day
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’m still not sure if de Botton was trying to write an indictment or an endorsement for the institution of marriage and I think that was basically the point. This book is incredibly good. Sickeningly good. I highlighted so many passages that it basically became one long highlight and I’m still thinking about it and working through some of the deceptively simple but thought-provoking passages on the life and marriage of Rabih and Kirsten. It’s not an intimate text but tells their story at an inte ...more
Light and lovely. If he sometimes takes it a step too far with the cloying metaphors for me to come along with him, I forgive him for the kindness of his insight about grown peoples’ needs to have their inner child acknowledged. If I’m slightly put off by the outsize place given to his musings on the virtues of infidelity, my faith is restored by his intelligence about his main character only being ready for marriage after thirteen years of marriage. For every minor thing I might quibble with, t ...more
I love Alain de Botton. How Proust Can Change Your Life is one of my all-time favorite books. I could list his other books that I also love but that would be just about all of them, all that I've read so far, anyway. But his newest work, a novel, The Course of Love, is about as lovely as a book can be.

Ribah and Kirsten meet (in Scotland), fall in love, and get married. That's just the beginning, though. What The Course of Love is really about is what happens after after the "I do," when the "hap
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a couple meets and falls in love, what exactly happens during the “happily ever after?” This is the main question that de Botton seeks to answer in this novel. In the first few pages, Rabih and Kirsten meet, fall in love, and become a couple, but that’s only the beginning of their love story. Throughout this book, the author charts the course of their relationship and all the messy, complicated bits that happen in-between.

I’m a horrible romantic and at times it felt like this book was spea
Ali Abdaal
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an absolutely wonderful read. I found myself awestruck at the author's insight into the human condition, and have learnt important lessons to apply to my own life and (hypothetical) relationships.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
"The important books should be those that leave us wondering, with relief and gratitude, how the author could possibly have known so much about our lives."
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I wouldn’t call this a novel, though it’s billed as such. It’s more of a teaching story contrived to illustrate a succession of lessons about relationships from the perspective of pathological analysis and relationship theory.

The lessons are valuable enough, particularly for younger people or someone who isn’t already familiar with these concepts and the kind of subtextual advice offered here.

If I wanted a relationship book, though, I would rather just read it as non-fiction. Instead, this fel
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I picked this up from a cart of new books in the library, headed for our leisure reading collection.

I like the premise of this book a lot, that most people focus on the story of how two people get together and fall in love, but not on how they stay together. Alain writes more of a case study using a marriage going through pretty major phases. Throughout the book, a kind of philosophy of relationships is sprinkled in paragraphs of italics. I think I'd prefer to read just the philosophy or just th
Lor O'Connor
Oct 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: self-help
I felt personally victimised by this terrible relationship presented in this terrible book.
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As always, I just love Alain de Botton. This book also couldn't have been timed better with where I am in life. My opinion is summed up in this quote from the book:
"Ideally, art would give us the answers that other people don't. This might even be one of the main points of literature: to tell us what society at large is too prudish to explore. The important books should be those that leave us wondering, with relief and gratitude, how the author could possibly have known so much about our lives."
Anis Suhaila
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most of my recent favourite reads are novels which are only around 200 pages long and it's not because I lack the time to read thicker novels. It is the finesse and the careful consideration one writes when one has to write in fewer words. No word is taken for granted, no scene is unnecessary.

The Course of Love is pure, honest and humane, it explains our deepest darkest thoughts and insecurities. It is as realistic as one can get about the notion of marriage and love. It is poetic but at the sa
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books about marriage and life I have ever read. I had to stop to make sure he wasn't spying into my life. Botton has his finger on human anxiety. I wish he could have written another book from the female perspective, but he is not totally wrong when he does explain her thoughts. I also disagree with a few of his suggestions (concealing certain information in the name of "politeness"), but I will be reading this again.
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Alain de Botton is a writer and television producer who lives in London and aims to make philosophy relevant to everyday life. He can be contacted by email directly via

He is a writer of essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas- and those of artists, philosophers and thinkers. It's a style of writing that has been termed a 'philosophy of everyday li

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