ON LOVE by Alain de Botton

ON LOVE

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A tour-de-force pleasure of a first novel that takes a conventional love story and textures it with philosophical ruminations, ironic subtitles, and various sorts of playfulness, including pencil drawings. The narrator, on a flight from Paris to London, meets Chloe in the first chapter, ``Romantic Fatalism'': ``The longing for a destiny is nowhere stronger than in our romantic life.'' In each ironically titled chapter to follow (``Marxism,'' ``Beauty,'' Skepticism and Faith,'' etc.), the paragraphs are numbered, as de Botton develops his disquisition upon love and its limitations. Apothegms abound: ``If the fall into love happens so rapidly, it is perhaps because the wish to love has preceded the beloved....'' The narrator falls for Chloe, but even at the beginning, dishonesty enters the picture: ``What sides of myself should I release?'' The narrator, in fact, is a prevaricator, leaving the relationship to speculate upon various matters: ``Few things can be as antithetical to sex as thought.'' Soon enough, disillusionment sets in: Chloe, trying to read Cosmo, tells the narrator to turn down the ``yodeling.'' It's Bach. ``Understanding Chloe, I was like a doctor, passing hands over a body, trying to intuit the interior.'' Understandably, Chloe tires of such a creep, and the two practice ``romantic terrorism.'' (``Is there anything wrong?'' ``No, why, should there be?'') Chloe, unfaithful, leaves him to contemplate suicide--and ``The Jesus Complex''--before he finds Rachel and the whole thing starts again.... A dissertation/novel on romantic narcissism that's both intellectually stimulating and emotionally touching. A very promising debut. (First printing of 25,000)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-87113-551-5
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993




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