Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 09/9/16 5:35 AM

Book review: The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

This is more a brief take than review.
The Course of Love by Alain de Botton. Penguin Books

Anything but a crash course in love, romance, marriage, all the wear and tear of life on relationships from  the  guru.

It`s a slim volume (just 222 pages) which traces the meeting of Rabih Khan and Kirsten McLelland in Ediburgh,  where  both live and work. It`s love that comes steadily if not at first sight, and runs deep. Rabih and Kirsten get married and proceed to live their lives.

What follows is the detritus of life and love: falling out, making up, squabbling, loving, trusting, distrusting, going shopping together, setting up home together. Discovering each other. They have two children and of course, they begin to drift apart, to grate on each other`s nerves. They indulge in affairs, fleeting, guilt-ridden clandestine encounters that bring no real joy to either.

When things get to point non plus, they are committed enough to each other to see a therapist who sort of helps them get their marriage back on track. And the story ends with them celebrating Kirstin`s birthday in a Highland castle resort, a little ill at ease with each other yet comfortable in the
knowledge that they have run the long race.

De Botton intersperses the couple`s trajectory with what can only be called perceptive little homilies about the nature of human beings in love and out of it. He lays bare the insecurities, the hurts, the anger, the resentment, the hopes and expectations, the disappointments and disillusionments. These italicised interjections may not work for all readers but contain nuggets of wisdom that, while not exactly novel,  definitely bear repetition.

Ultimately, this isn’t the story of just Rabih and Kirsten, it’s the story of all of us who have lived and loved, married, stayed married, divorced, moved on, fallen in and out of love. Love is the start of it all  but this is the story of what happens next.

Alain de Bottondiscourse on relationshipslovemarriageThe Course of Love

Sheila Kumar • September 9, 2016

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