It’s a brief but believable narrative about a couple – their childhood, first meeting, falling in love, marriage, children and growing older together interspersed with pertinent insightful tit-bits from de Botton about the psychological nature of love and relationships.
For someone like me, in a loving, long term relationship and closer to 50 than she would like to think about, this book felt a little like old news.
It was nice to be reminded of some of the hard won realisations we had worked out for ourselves over the years. But part of why these hard won truths are so meaningful to us, is because we worked them out ourselves.
Which isn’t to say, that some of the profound insights into our own characters and how we act in significant relationships didn’t stem from a chance comment in a book, or the lyrics in a song, or via the help of a counsellor. But most of the really tough, nitty gritty knowledge about our deep dark desires and failings, came about through difficult conversations, sleepless nights and desperate soul-searching.
Therefore, in lots of ways, The Course of Love felt redundant for me, especially as Rabih and Kirsten’s story didn’t continue into the trying teen years, that joyously sad time of empty-nesting, failing health, retirement, down-sizing and loss of a spouse.
De Botton and his characters also seemed to forget about humour.
Being able to laugh together and amuse each other can get you through, over and around any number of life’s hurdles.
The Course of Love will no doubt spawn quotes that will end up in greeting cards, marriage vows and Instagram accounts. But the book itself didn’t quite hit the mark, as fiction or as informative non-fiction.
Interesting, easy to read, but not riveting.
A few quotes that I highlighted along the way….