The Course of Love – Alain de Botton

This time last year, after popping the question to my boyfriend, a couple of family members recommended The Course of Love, telling me it was a must-read for all newlyweds. And in October this year, I finally picked it up, just in time for my wedding.

Although having previously never read any of his books, I’ve been a fan of Alain de Botton for a while, first discovering him through YouTube videos and articles on The Book of Life website. I like how he can open my mind up to new and different ways of thinking. He makes me want to learn and understand more about philosophy, but I can also really struggle with non-fiction, which is why this novel appealed to me.

The Course of Love follows the meeting, dating and marriage of Rabih and Kirsten. It’s not a romantic novel in the ordinary sense of the word, so don’t expect to be swept away by a passionate drama. Rather, it’s an overview of what to really expect when spending your life with another person. That may sound boring (and to be honest relationships can be quite tedious at times), but this book isn’t. It’s a truthful and (mostly) hopeful read, taking a look at a realistic modern relationship.

All relationships have their ups and downs, and it’s no different for Rabih and Kirsten. We learn about how experiences in their past can create issues for their relationship in the present. At intervals, there are explanations in italics to help the reader see what might be going on in the minds of each character and why they behave in certain ways. Analysing someone else’s behaviour can really help you to think about why loved ones in your own life react to situations the way they do. And importantly, it can encourage you to evaluate your own behaviour.

I have found Alain de Botton’s previous essays and talks about love invaluable but The Course of Love covers much of the same ground, so I didn’t find it quite as insightful as I’d hoped. However it was interesting to see his theories played out in a fictional ‘case study’. I’d still recommend the book to anyone – young or old, whether in a relationship or not.

I’m hoping that I have gone into marriage armed with some useful knowledge and I will keep hold of The Course of Love for future readings, as I’m sure I will need it again when my marriage is not quite so shiny and new. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the fuzzy glow of being a newlywed – at least for the next few months!

Buy The Course of Love by clicking on the picture below!

2 thoughts on “The Course of Love – Alain de Botton

  1. Great post!
    I liked the largely hopeful tenor of this book. Alain de Botton doesn’t romanticise the sometimes rocky relationship portrayed in his case-study. His approach, using a longitudinal study and analysis means that there is something for everyone in this book. No matter how long or short a relationship turns out to be, “The Course of Love” is a sort of reference book we can dip into when required.


    • Thank you! 😊
      Yes, I do find it a hopeful book too, even though Alain de Botton doesn’t shy away from showing the negative parts of relationships.
      It’s definitely a book I’ll be passing on to other people in the future!


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