Title: The Course of Love
Author: Alain de Botton
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
I’ve always been interested in Alain de Botton, his books are always there saying “read me, read me” so I saw this one in the library and decided what a perfect place to start!
I hate love stories, most are corny and so unreal and just such bullshit that I just don’t bother, this was very different and enlightening.
The Course of Love is the story of Rabih and Kirsten’s relationship from the very start with little bits of psychology thrown in for good measure.
The story starts with Rabih meeting a new work client, Kirsten, in the first meeting he is rather infatuated with her beauty, not obvious beauty but a quirky beauty that he finds fascinating. Upon the second meeting Rabih decides he is going to go with his guy and ask Kirsten out on a date, what’s he got to lose?
The story is broken up into 5 catagories…
Romanticism- which follows Rabih and Kirsten’s meeting, those first feelings of love and the butterflies in the tummy everytime you and that other person touch! Rabih and Kirsten get married and believe in “happy ever after”.
“We believe we are seeking happiness in love, but what we are really after is familiarity. We are looking to re-create, within our adult relationships, the very feelings we knew so well in childhood- and which were rarely limited to just tenderness and care.”
Ever After- Within Ever After we discover relationships aren’t easy at all! Rabih and Kirsten discover those niggling little things that irritate each other. From how they both prefer to sleep in different temperatures to a liking of different glasses from ikea!
“We place such demands on our partners, and become so unreasonable around them, because we have faith that someone who understands obscure parts of us, whose presence solves so many of our woes, must also be able to fix everything about our lives.”
Children- Rabih and Kirsten welcome Esther into there lives, a little girl that would change so much. No manual on what to do to look after this tiny baby leaves Rabih wondering if he is doing everything correct. He wants to protect Esther from the world.
A second child, a boy comes 3 years after Esther.
Children change everything, what used to be a life of luxury and spending together now involves these two children that seems to take up so much of lifes pleasures and makes even lifes simplest tasks worth argueing about.
“The difficulties of modern parents can in part be blamed on the way prestige is distributed. Couples are not only besieged by practical demands at every hour, they are also inclined to think of these demands as humiliating, banal and meaningless, and are therefore likely to be averse to offering pity or praise to one another, or themselves, just for enduring them.”
Adultery- When Rabih goes away on a business trip he comes across a woman just as intriguing as Kirsten. When asked for a drink he knows how the night will end. In the arms of another woman and feeling guilty for hurting Kirsten when really he was hurt from her not wanting to get intimate with him. The couple have lost themselves to life, work, children and are not meeting each others needs. Also arguing about most things Rabih and Kirsten feel detached from one another.
“No relationship could start without a commitment to wholehearted intimacy. But in order for love to keep going, it also seems impossible to imagine partners not learning to keep a great many of their thoughts to themselves.”
Beyong Romanticism- In this last section we see Rabih come to terms with his relationship, it’s never going to be perfect but he is ready for love. He is ready to give love and not have a great need for love in return. Rabih knows Kirsten will never fully understand him nor will he fully ever understand her but there is no where else he would rather be than with his beautiful wife and children. Rabih is ready for love!
“pronouncing a love ‘ perfect’can only be a sign that we have failed to understand them. We can claim to have begun to know someone only when they have substantially disappointed us.”
A read that made me look deeply into my own relationship and the relationships of those around me.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5!