by Alain De Botton
Amazon / Goodreads
The long-awaited and beguiling second novel from Alain de Botton that tracks the beautifully complicated arc of a romantic partnership, from the internationally bestselling author of On Love and How Proust Can Change Your Life.
We all know the headiness and excitement of the early days of love. But what comes after? In Edinburgh, a couple, Rabih and Kirsten, fall in love. They get married, they have children—but no long-term relationship is as simple as “happily ever after.” The Course of Love is a novel that explores what happens after the birth of love, what it takes to maintain love, and what happens to our original ideals under the pressures of an average existence. You experience, along with Rabih and Kirsten, the first flush of infatuation, the effortlessness of falling into romantic love, and the course of life thereafter. Interwoven with their story and its challenges is an overlay of philosophy—an annotation and a guide to what we are reading.
This is a romantic novel in the true sense, one interested in exploring how love can survive and thrive in the long term. The result is a sensory experience—fictional, philosophical, psychological—that urges us to identify deeply with these characters, and to reflect on his and her own experiences in love. Fresh, visceral, and utterly compelling, The Course of Love is a provocative and life-affirming novel for everyone who believes in love.
Review:I absolutely adored this book. It was a refreshing, fast-paced and thought-provoking read, that delved into the nature of love - not just the first infatuation and romance, but long lasting relationships and marriage. It was just fascinating for me, and interesting to see how the actions of the two protagonists were broken down by the author.
The structure of this novel is non-traditional, in that the author often inserts philosophical or thoughtful commentary on each stage of the romance, and the actual story lacks a real novel structure because it's more of an overview of how Rabih and Kirsten met, fell in love, and their progression with marriage and children. I'm not yet at the stage where I have a lot of experience with this, so it was wonderful to get an impartial look at the emotions that run through these experiences and what it means for the person and for the significant other. Even though the story is mostly from Rabih's point of view, the novel looks at the relationship in such an equitable way, that I felt like I could easily relate to both Rabih and Kristen, and all of their trials and successes. It's a little bittersweet to read the progression of their relationship, with all the ups and downs, in such a truncated way, but revelatory to get such a unique overview of these two peoples' lives.
This is a book that I think will stick with me for a long time, because the experiences discussed in this book are so meaningful and timeless. The thoughts and emotions are applicable to almost everyone, and the search or maintenance of a long lasting romantic relationship is certainly a major part of most people's lives. This is a beautiful and fascinating book.