Alain de Botton
Publication Date: © 1993, 2006
Category: Fiction, although there is a lot of philosophy and other stuff thrown in!
Who'll want to read it? Fans of Alain de Botton, arm chair philosophers, people in a relationship, people no longer in a relationship.
Point of no return: For me, there was no real 'point of no return'. I was drawn slowly into the fictional romance between Alain and Chloe, but really fascinated by his interpretations of why we do things, drawing quite a few parallels with my own experiences.
A word of warning: this book is not a light read. It has a lot of philosophical content, some mathematics (for example, the probability calculation on pages 8-9, of two random people sitting next to each other on a particular flight), and is basically a non-fiction book in a fictional setting.
Classic lines: "Chloe took off one of the offensive shoes, supposedly so as to let me look at it, but more realistically, to murder me with it; I chose to duck the incoming projectile; and it crashed through the window behind me and fell down to the street, where it impaled itself in the remains of a neighbor's leftover chicken Madras." - pages 60-61
"Dr . Saavedra had diagnosed a case of anhedonia, a disease defined by the British Medical Association as a reaction remarkably close to mountain sickness resulting from the sudden terror brought on by the threat of happiness."- page 123
"We spend our time loving like utilitarians; in the bedroom we are followers of Hobbes and Bentham, not Plato and Kant. We make moral judgements on the basis of preference, not transcendental values." - pages 158-159
"To have killed myself would have been to forget that I would be too dead to derive any pleasure from the melodrama of my extinction." - page 172
To read an extract on Alain de Botton's website, click here.
What's it all about? Written in the first person, Alain meets Chloe by sitting next to her on a flight back to England. He falls in love with her during the flight, and they agree to meet again. The book chronicles the relationship from the beginning, through the difficult first date, beyond the comfortable familiarity of the seemingly solid relationship, and out the other side - the breakup, and recovery from breakup.
Everything is analysed in great detail, which makes it a little slow going. I commented to a friend that it would be exhausting to over-think everything in that manner, and to have a relationship with someone who thought in that depth would be a bit annoying. It did shine a light on some things that have happened in my own relationships, and made me grateful that I have never swallowed a handful of effervescent vitamin C tablets.
Publisher: Grove Press
Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.