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Publisher's Summary

So many romances are focused on how two people come together and the hurdles they overcome, but what happens after you ride off into the sunset?

Penguin presents, the unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of The Course of Love by Alain de Botton, read by Julian Rhind-Tutt.

Twenty years after his best-selling debut, Essays in Love, internationally acclaimed author Alain de Botton returns to fiction with a brilliant new novel about modern relationships.

What does it mean to live happily ever after?

At dinner parties and over coffee, Rabih and Kirsten's friends always ask them the same question: how did you meet? The answer comes easily - it's a happy story, one they both love to tell. But there is a second part to this story, the answer to a question their friends never ask: what happened next?

Rabih and Kirsten find each other, fall in love, get married. Society tells us this is the end of the story. In fact it is only the beginning. From the first thrill of lust to the joys and fears of real commitment to the deep problems that surface slowly over two shared lifetimes, this is the story of a marriage. It is the story of modern relationships and how to survive them.

Playful, wise and profoundly moving, The Course of Love is a delightful return to the novel by Alain de Botton, 20 years after his debut, Essays in Love.

©2016 Alain de Botton (P)2016 Penguin Books Limited

What listeners say about The Course of Love

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A beautiful learning session..

I am finishing off this story for the first time teary eyed.. Cannot compliment any book better ❤️

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absolutely must read for people in marriage.

perfect depiction of all facets of life in a love marriage. Recommended to gain confidence in aspects of a married life.

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  • Paula Nilsson
  • 14-03-19

Direct, straight to the POINT

Alain de Botton is with this novel dissecting the most fundamental midnight thoughts of life. And God bless he has a solution and thesis for them. Very appropriate to read before/after/during a life crisis... Just saying, this novel is simple, eloquent and penetrating to our primitive notion of life.

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  • Ninell
  • 27-04-17

Honest and insightful

Really enjoyed every moment. A brutally honest but empathetic view on being human. Living life through the characters i gained perspective on my own relationships, and changed.

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  • Amazon Kunde
  • 24-04-17

Just amazing!

The insights and the way the author captured the sublime thought process of the characters left me speechless.

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  • Jo Bogaert
  • 28-02-21

Don't hesitate even one second to buy this book

If you're thinking about getting this book, DON'T HESITATE EVEN ONE SECOND to buy it. This story is without a doubt part of my top three love stories ever written and I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone who is interested in learning more about relationships, and what it means to be human. The story is so incredibly relatable. It makes you laugh, cringe, smile, cry. It moved me deeply. It's so true, honest, touching and profound. The knowing that relationships aren't meant to be perfect, that petty arguments and hurtful circumstances have always been and will always be a part of the process of growing old together with the person you love, is somehow deeply reassuring, and allows for forgiveness, a sense of wonder and immense appreciation for the journey two people embark on together when they decide to devote theirselves to one another. I am amazed and deeply touched. Oh, and the narration is absolutely delightful. Don't hesitate and buy the book right away.

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  • NYK
  • 24-02-21

Enjoyed it thoroughly

Purchased both the Kindle and Audible version and can honestly say they're both superb. Couldn't decide which format I enjoy more. You can't go wrong with this one.

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  • Divya R
  • 05-02-21

If you’re married or in a long term commitment, pls read!

I loved this book! It’s insightful, incisive and definitely required reading for married or long term relationship folks!

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  • Nayer El-Deeb
  • 16-01-21

u better read that XD

a little boring - especially in the beginning - but so essential and true u feel oxygen is a little sucked off the room for a moment there . the narrator is too prestigious it's almost annoying XD but clear with pronunciation and skilled with different accents.

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  • Harini
  • 12-05-20

Love Investigated?

I don't understand how to be lyrical, the lack of epithets I experience to encapsulate the essence of this book.

I'd only say that if you were to want a sensation of momentary transcendence, to lose yourself and see life under a new light, give this book a go.

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  • Lap
  • 23-03-19

Life changing

I really enjoyed listening to this one. Such a good lesson to learn. Love is constantly learned and not intuitive as we are expected to think.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-01-19

A sober and realistic look at Romanticism.

Would have preferred if de Botton had narrated it himself, but this book is a life changing one for those of us socialised into Romanticism and provides much needed insights into the underbelly of what happens in relationships and life. An absolute must read.

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  • christian
  • 07-09-17

Brilliant

As a man, 38, who has experienced some mid marriage frustrations and awakenings, this may well be the best book I've ever read. If not the best it could be the most important.
As usual, de botton de bunks and makes accessible lots of philosophical and pyschological theory and lays it out in a very listenable, fun and enjoyable story format resembling mostly attenborough's trials of life.
It is possibly a little leant towards the male protagonist, but I would assume this book would be an eye opener for females and males alike.
The reader never appears pompous and delivers the text with at times the mearest wry smile.

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  • Mrs
  • 03-11-16

Sublime

A beautiful, gentle, deeply insightful telling of love and its complications which left me feeling hopeful about relationships and the possibilities of understanding (and forgiving) ourselves and others. A must to all who want to have eyes open when committing to another.

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  • Laura
  • 23-03-17

You wont regret reading this!

Any additional comments?
I found this book beautifully written and narrated. Eloquent, poetic, light hearted and also enlightening! One of the most interesting things I took away from this book was reminder that each of us have deep rooted behaviours and ideals that we may not know we have, and may not have thought about where they came from but of which can start as reasons we love/like/are drawn to a person, and then also turn into reasons we feel disconnected from that same person. Our behaviours and ideals may be very different from that of others', even those closest to us (who understand us the most). The book reminded me to show compassion at time when I understand others' behaviour the least.

I have sent copied of this book to a number of good friends. A wonderful entertaining and thought provoking read!

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  • PJN
  • 16-01-17

Should be compulsory reading for anyone in a relationship!

I absolutely loved this book. Botton has a skill for stating things that we all struggle to put into words. I felt like I learned so much from this book, I loved the characters, but even more I loved the helpful passages about relationships and the parts that nobody seems to talk about. Brilliant book!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Rutger
  • 14-09-16

Great lessons

Great story. Only bad point is that some parts are whispered really soft followed by loud narrative

4 people found this helpful

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  • oliver
  • 02-09-16

A sublime little book.

This book can in my mind, be considered as a bright light in the darkness.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dr. M. A. Edwards
  • 02-07-16

sensitive and wonderful, if a little male-biased

I'm a little biased as, for me, De Botton can do no wrong, but I loved this little book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ke Donn
  • 25-05-16

Everyone should listen to this book

This book is wonderfully written and a real insight to the highs and lows of relationships. so much information presented in a heartwarming story made even better by the narrators beautiful voice

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  • Lexi Wolfe, Writer & Actress
  • 31-05-20

The Course of 'A Marriage' - not Love

A male friend recommended this - said it was one of the best and most honest books he'd ever read on relationships and would be right up my street, so I gave it a bash. To be fair, I enjoyed it quite a lot. And was able to finish it. However, I was rather surprised by some of the choices Botton made in the narrative.

Spoilers below - ye have been warned.

First of all, perhaps Botton only wrote the book at the time as far as his own marriage had seen, but I felt that the story cut off a little early, and on an almost cynical note: Rabih is suddenly aware that This Is His Life, Kirsten and the kids and the job he never progressed as far as he wanted to in. Fair enough if that is what happens, but I wanted to know also, or at least get some heavy hints about what might happen as they got even older, at least up until the kids had left home and it was just them at home again. That would have been a real test. As it happens even as Bottom tries to save things at the end by saying Rabih finally thought of himself as lucky, I was reflecting just how much of the book had been written predominantly from Rabih's perspective, with his 'love', his wife Kirsten as a kind of sidekick who pops up a lot, as opposed to writing about two lovers.

Also, I'm afraid that I lost a lot of my sympathy for Rabih. Not because he had a one night stand, so much as he took the coward's way out and never told his wife. I assumed while I was reading of the infidelity - at which point I still sympathised with his character - that the next part of the book was going to entail the trials, negotiations and aggro that comes with a family recovering from unfaithfulness. That would have been a very worthwhile chapter or two for a work with this particular title. To my amazement, he explains to his fling that he was wrong and can't commit to anything long term, of course, but then that is the last we hear of the fact he's cheated on Kirsten, mother to his kids. I kept waiting for her to find out and for that to be addressed, but was disappointed it wasn't. As a Femme, I daren't wonder if that is because most men would simply do the deed and then copy Rabih's example as a matter of course, in which they never own up to their spouse, but it honestly did put me off a lot of the rest of their relationship, because it was based on dishonesty, cowardliness and lies. So I'm afraid I got less out of it than I might have done if Rabih'd admitted his transgression and he and she had worked on patching up their marriage and love following that.

Lastly, as per the two issues above, I didn't really see this as a study on the course of love, but rather of the first ten-fifteen years of a relationship. Which would have been fine. 'How To Be Married' or something along those lines, would have served better. I'm sure Botton is of the school of 'love is little, trivial things as well', and he's not wrong, but I thought it was still too strong a word for the title. No, I wasn't expecting a romantic love story; just something, perhaps, that gave me a little more faith in humanity given how much we treasure the word Love.

Honestly, though, I enjoyed a lot of it. However, I will also readily admit that I'm not rushing out to get any more Botton work just at the moment...

2 people found this helpful

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  • viviann tuong
  • 30-08-16

Brilliant insights into love

Best relationship themed book I've picked up in years and so well told, lots of laugh out loud moments

2 people found this helpful

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  • Corne
  • 22-07-16

enlightening

extremely good narrator, indifferent to taking sides, and reading so even the most illogical ideas become logical. The storyline goes through and sheds light on every aspect of marriage, shedding light on modern societal misconceptions. As a realist, I found this book helping me feel much more willing to open up and to give people a chance. An absolute must-read, just ignore the very few swear words.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Victoria
  • 22-07-16

Prescribed pre-relationship reading

Alain de Botton has created a entertaining story that provides a realistic view of relationships & marriage.. We can all take something from this story & perhaps remove the pressure of trying to have the "perfect life". Highly recommended!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Luke
  • 21-07-16

Modern love primer

It may not be the only way to look at love, but it certainly is a valuable one. Very wise and quite ambitious in its scope, not to mention enjoyable, witty, elegantly expressed and not without some genuine suspense.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 23-12-17

Very, very good. Listen to it.

A beautiful book with dozens of important ideas and messages to make and sustain relationships. They aren't all easy to take on board but that should be read as a measure of their worth rather than a reason to stay away. You will likely never see love in the same light again.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tracey
  • 03-09-16

Loved this

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, Alain De Botton is an outstanding human being. If he decides to write about something, he makes sure he knows everything about the topic. He writes because he is genuinely passionate about helping people to live better lives. But instead of being preachy, he comes down to the heart level, and says, hey look, I've noticed these things and it's helped me live a better more aware life, maybe it could help you too, if you're interested. And far from being a part of the typical American style self-help guru, Alain does not set himself up on any kind pedestal, nor do you feel when listening, that you are being judged. It is simply an observation. Anyway, this book helped me understand my husband better. And for that, our relationship is better. Loved it to the end, and didn't want the story to end, I wanted to hear how they coped with the next stage of their lives - middle age, and then grandparenthood - Alain - are you listening?!

Have you listened to any of Julian Rhind-Tutt’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Beautiful voice, with ever so subtle intonations and ability to convey just the right amount of feeling into his voice.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, when the characters finally came to terms with each others shortcomings, and decided to move forward together anyway, just appreciating the other person and not trying to change them. Paradoxically, people will begin to change in an organic way once this happens.

Any additional comments?

I recommend all of Alain's writing, and even go to the website for the School of Life of which he is a co-founder. He is not a lofty self-help guru, just an extremely intelligent human being who is dedicated to using his talents to make people's lives better. I have devoured most of his books.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-02-20

Can't give it enough stars

This book should be a manual for all relationships. Very skilfully written. It's written as a story, but he steps out of the story from time to time to reflect and share his insights into the situations we keep getting ourselves into as humans. VERY relatable.

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  • Adam
  • 04-08-16

Everyone in a relationship needs to hear this

Disney has lied to you, romanticism makes for great stories and bad relationships. absolutely brilliant

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kevin
  • 07-07-16

A must for the study of love

I can't say enough how great this book is, as it provides a through mature look at what's in our hearts. Love.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bridget Pearce
  • 27-05-16

Confronting realism

I didn't necessarily love every second of listening to this. It felt like the betrayal of infidelity was being downplayed/rationalised for a while but that was eventually addressed and overall I found it clever, realistic, relatable and refreshingly unsugarcoated.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-04-21

Every married couple should read this book

I felt as if I were the female character in this book. It is a love story with the best relationship advice ever. It made me reflect on my own life and kind of make sense of it.
I want to buy ten copies and give them to my friends.