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Summary

Essays in Love is a stunningly original love story. Taking in Aristotle, Wittgenstein, history, religion and Groucho Marx, Alain de Botton charts the progress of a love affair from the first kiss to argument and reconciliation, from intimacy and tenderness to the onset of anxiety and heartbreak.

©1993 Alain de Botton (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Essays in Love

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Don't 'read' when your heart is breaking

A beautifully written piece, combining philosophy, psychology, observation and a captivating story absolutely seamlessly, and with such humour and sadness it is unputdownable. The narrator is a skilled storyteller, whose sensitivity to the subject permeates his voice. This book would be perfect for anyone who is single, starting a relationship, in a loving relationship, and in a relationship in trouble who needs some loving guidance and reflection.
But I beg you, do not read/listen to this when you're in the middle of heartbreak. I started listening after watching many School of Life videos on YouTube, finding them fascinating and comforting, and thought this book might help me heal from my break-up from a beloved of 6 years, the wounds of which are only a month old. I got up to a certain point in the story, and suddenly all the pain and grief are just as fresh and overpowering as they were 4 weeks ago when we finally realised, both of us, for the first time, that it was really over. As a consequence I've had a crappy weekend, and feel like I've taken 15 steps back in recovering from this heartbreak.
If I'd waited a few months, when the pain isn't so raw, it would have been immensely healing, but I listened too soon. I'll probably come back to hear the last few chapters in a few months, but for now I just wanted to add a "trigger warning" to this otherwise wonderful book. If your heart is breaking, wait a while. Sending love to all who read this that know the pain I'm feeling right now.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • M
  • 29-03-13

Not for the lonely ...

Alain de Botton meticulously dissects that bizarre and complex creature: the Love Affair. He takes every emotion felt, and every action taken, and - through the magnifying glass of philosophy - analyses the whole process of falling in love. From the moment of the lovers’ first contact, through the heat of their passion, the rage of their arguments and the ridiculousness of their sulks, we hear what the philosophers - ancient and modern - have made of love.

As with everything of Alain de Botton’s that I’ve read, 'Essays in Love' is rich with ideas and beautifully written: he manages to put heart into what could otherwise be rather abstract intellectual concepts. The narrator is somewhat neurotic but in a necessary and likeable way, and I was with him through all of his trials. A wonderful book - brilliantly narrated, too - that is going to stay with me for a long time.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great

It wasn't what I expected, but it was a brilliant balance between being a novel and a psychological analysis of feelings of love.

5 people found this helpful

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intellectual and boring - lacking emotional depth

Got too bored of both Mr DB's books on love. Great idea for a book, but I wonder where nice man might benefit from a therapeutic exercise to calm down the intellect and allow for the emotional, and other aspects of wisdom to thrive.

I prescribe a course of therapy - no shame in that

3 people found this helpful

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Not my cup of grey

This wasn’t for me. Some of it was useful and some parts are funny but generally could not connect or relate with the posh narration. I didn’t find it consistently universal or ironically clear about the specifics of a very upper middle class perspective/experience of romance. In fairness I can see others might enjoy tho

2 people found this helpful

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A heartbreakingly exploration of romantic love

This novel is a heartbreakingly painful exploration of romantic love which follows the story of a relationship from its tender beginnings to its bitter end and subsequent evaluation.

The relationship is that of a nameless, male narrator, who is an over-thinker, and Chloe, a highly-strung, high-maintenance, young woman. Although the affair is very petty bourgeois (they meet on a plane from Paris, have dates at art galleries and pretentious restaurants and argue about literature), it represents some common stages of many relationships, the expectations, emotions, miscommunication and various other pitfalls.

What's wonderful about the book is the forensic and brutally honest analysis of each stage of a relationship in chronological order. Also, the philosophical analysis of romantic love and the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists. Obviously, much of the analysis is de Botton's own, he is a great thinker, and when you explore a relationship through the lens of sharp, critical thinking there is an inevitability about the conclusion.

There are many toe-curlingly, embarrassing moments, self-doubt and exchanges which may make you want to joint a holy order committed to celibacy.

Even though the reader can see the end coming a long way off, it's worth sticking around to witness the conclusion and poke through the debris of what is left.

There is beauty and pain here which are essential ingredients of novels and there is the absence of any preaching or cliché.

The book maybe a difficult read for many but hopefully it can help people to better understand the complex forces at work in relationships. If two people in love, who both desperately want a relationship to work, but can't and, in fact, end up hurting each other and destroying the relationship; what hope is there for international diplomacy?

This is the best book I have read on this topic by some distance. James Wilby is faultless in the reading of this model.

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Journey through a romance

It’s a very intriguing experience, I think, even a little bit cruel for Chloe. Every feelings they share, love they made, comes into my mind. The gaze, the camel, their personal dictionary, I did reflect a lot of my romance in the past in their stories, anyway a very good delivery!

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Indulgent & self-consciously intellectual

In a word: Frustrating. AdB has written some interesting works. This isn't one of them.

The simple story of how a man loved and lost has some merit. But the excessive philosophising is indulgent and tiresome.

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A bit disappointing

The narrator was good but when he did the female character's voice it was a bit cringy and made her seem quite one dimensional. The story was disappointing as it seemed to cover quite trite generalities of a love story and none of the characters were likeable to me.

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Lite

Having read all of Alain De Botton’s books, this one did not live up to my high expectations. The narrative felt somewhat trashy, and the narrator made it feel more so. Sorry Alain.

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  • Maria L. Lantin
  • 07-05-12

Every relationship you've ever analyzed

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

I wouldn't recommend this book to all my friends but I know that some of them would enjoy it as much as I did. It's for romantics that think too much sometimes. It's for realists that love to fall in love nevertheless.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Essays in Love?

There are many memorable moments...but perhaps what stands out now after a couple weeks is the way intimacy in the couple is revealed and lost. The fight scenes are funny in a "oh yeah, I've been there" kinda way.

Have you listened to any of James Wilby’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

It was my first James Wilby book and I enjoyed his reading very much.

Who was the most memorable character of Essays in Love and why?

I guess it was the main male character because he's so introspective to the point of absurdity but also insightful.

5 people found this helpful

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  • MM
  • 22-02-18

Brilliantly plucks and weaves love's nuances

What did you love best about Essays in Love?

The story is engaging. There are really good points made, great references, and de Botton analyzes the nuances of falling in and out of love with the perspective and depth of someone who's lived a thousand lives. The narrator's voice is very attractive.

What does James Wilby bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Great voice. Very warm and theatrical (not in an exaggerated way) at the same time.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. It was so hard to even go to sleep. I had my Audible on sleep timer several times but didn't want to miss anything to grogginess. So I would relisten the same parts the next day. This book is so wise.

Any additional comments?

Definitely listen to this.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andre Mendes
  • 21-05-16

One day binge

Simply could not put this book down. There are so few stories, love stories fewer still, that capture real life so well. The book itself is a beautiful mix of philosophical topics with narrative that makes for such an enlightening and enjoyable listening experience. Very well performed, I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for a realistic love story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Blanche Matula
  • 13-11-21

what a creep

the author is an egotistical jerk who spends the entire book bemoaning how he has fallen madly and passionately in love with a woman who has the nerve to exist as herself rather than his idealized intellectual equal.

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  • Toivo
  • 16-08-21

Not really a novel

it was more of a reflection on human behaviour written partly in a story format. It was still a very moving book

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  • Jess
  • 16-06-21

Superb!

If there was ever to be a road map on the topic of love and relationships, this would be it. This, second only to The Course of Love, another classic.

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  • carla freeman
  • 07-06-21

Tedious

I have enjoyed many of de Botton's books but this one is tedious, disappointing. Not worth it.

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  • Reem Alsmaiel
  • 26-05-21

Enjoyable read

I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I liked how it captured the man’s point of view throughout the relationship journey. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding love in all its stages.

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  • Ana Pliopas
  • 06-12-20

Embracing ambiguity of love

Via an interesting and quite ordinary love story de Botton invites us to reflect on one of the most important aspect of life: romantic love.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-11-20

Good story, poor narration

The narrator is too dramatic which unfortunately ruins some moments. I enjoyed the story though.