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The Course of Love

“We don’t need to be constantly reasonable in order to have good relationships; all we need to have mastered is the occasional capacity to acknowledge with good grace that we may, in one or two areas, be somewhat insane.”

The Course of Love ~ Alain de Botton

I was intrigued to hear that Alain de Botton had written a novel. I usually steer clear of non-fiction, at least for now, hoping that in a few years perhaps I’ll develop a taste for it. Alain de Botton is known the world over for his beautiful and thought-provoking books on philosophy and psychology. A novel by him seemed to be my chance to taste some of his world.

The book is an experimental novel, in my eyes at least. The plot is very simple and it is all there in the title of the book. It is an examination of the course of love between a woman and a man who are both seemingly ordinary, do ordinary things, have ordinary expectations and arguments. There is no unexpected twist, neither is there an ending that leaves you gasping for more. So what makes the book such a refreshing read? Every Chapter is neatly divided by de Botton into a section which tells the story and furthers the plot; followed by a section where de Botton’s own voice creeps in and he examines the philosophy of romanticism and love.

There are some useful psychological insights, written in engaging and clean prose. It offers the readers the best of both worlds, a touching love story and a close examination, a sort of case study of romantic life. There were definitely parts in the book which made be sit up in bed and exclaim – “How does de Botton know so much about me?”

Why you should read it

  • If you’re looking for a brutally honest and philosophical look at love
  • If you’ve read ‘On Chesil Beach’ and liked it
  • If, like me, you’ve never bought “Happily ever after” endings; not one for second

Why you shouldn’t read it

  • If you want to keep believing in “Happily ever after” endings
  • If you’re looking strictly for fiction and want to stay far away from any author commentary
  • If you want your next read to be fast paced and trigger-happy.


I received an early copy of the book from Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review