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Book Review: Alain de Botton's The Course of Love

Given the inevitable tensions and challenges we all face in our intimate relationships from time to time, I sat down eagerly with The Course of Love after having to wait a few months for ti to come back in store after being sold out, hoping it might shed some light on one or two of my own curly marital issues. (we all have them).

The book is certainly a love story. But, unlike so many other love stories, it focuses , not on the initial falling in love it that is the domain of rom coms, fairy tales and mills and boons novels the world over, but rather what happens next. As  De Botton so eloquently writes, the couple “will marry, they will suffer, they will frequently worry about money, they will have a girl first, then a boy, one of them will have an affair, there will be passages of boredom, they’ll sometimes want to murder one another and on a few occasions to kill themselves. This will be the real love story.”

The plot around which our two protagonists revolve is almost incidental however. What really drives the story, is their character and the detailed examination of how their character manifests in terms of actions, behaviour and emotions. In part, it reads almost like a psychology essay, but with beautifully written prose and virtually no jargon. The characters themselves are meticulously drawn, and despite their fears and foibles ( or perhaps because of them) , there is an easily found identification with various aspects of their characters.

While I found a certain predictability in some of their actions and behaviours of our heroes, there were certainly insights to be found to help address my own curly relationship issues, and a connection was drawn between their challenges of everyday life and my own.

Overall, while a little bit dry at times, I found the Course of Love, interesting, insightful and beautifully written. For anyone whose in an intimate relationship or wants to be, it is required reading. Swot up!

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