On Love

( 7 )

Overview

The best-selling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Art of Travel revisits his utterly charming debut novel, On Love. The narrator is smitten by Chloe on a Paris–London flight, and by the time they’ve reached the luggage carousel he knows he is in love. He loves her chestnut hair, watery green eyes, the gap that makes her teeth Kantian and not Platonic, and her views on Heidegger’s Being and Time — but he hates her taste in shoes. Plotting the course of their affair from the initial delirium of ...

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Overview

The best-selling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Art of Travel revisits his utterly charming debut novel, On Love. The narrator is smitten by Chloe on a Paris–London flight, and by the time they’ve reached the luggage carousel he knows he is in love. He loves her chestnut hair, watery green eyes, the gap that makes her teeth Kantian and not Platonic, and her views on Heidegger’s Being and Time — but he hates her taste in shoes. Plotting the course of their affair from the initial delirium of infatuation to the depths of suicidal despair, through a fit of anhedonia — defined in medical texts as a disease resulting from the terror brought on by the threat of utter happiness — and finally through the terrorist tactics employed when the beloved begins, inexplicably, to drift away, On Love is filled with profound observations and useful diagrams, examining for all of us the pain and exhilaration of love.

In this dazzlingly original first novel, Alain de Botton tells of a young man smitten by a woman on a Paris-London flight. On Love plots the course of their affair from the initial delirium of infatuation to the depths of suicidal despair, as the beloved, inexplicably, begins to drift away.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two words on the cover ``a novel'' are the only hint that this unusual first book is fiction and not autobiography. The unnamed narrator is a London architect who becomes involved with Chloe, a graphic designer. After about a year, Chloe leaves him for an office-mate, and, as a result, the narrator tries unsuccessfully to kill himself. Eventually he gets over Chloe and falls in love with someone else. The novel's action is minimal; the balance of the book is given over to the narrator's obsessive analysis of his relationship with Chloe. There are diagrams--such as the seating chart of the Boeing 767 where they met--that are meant to illustrate various ideas with which the narrator toys. The book was likely intended as a Barthesian look at that peculiar heart condition called love, but the overblown and pretentious writing obliterates any comparison, peppered as it is with such winking turns-of-phrase as ``cartographic fascism.'' The author is clearly intelligent and well- read; perhaps some day he will put those assets to good literary use. Nov.
Library Journal
Chloe and Alain meet in a plane flying from Paris to London and fall in love. Their romance lasts only about a year, and after they have parted the narrator/author uses scenes from their time together as illustrations of his philosophical anatomy of romantic love. Chapters are formed of numbered paragraphs so that the book resembles a classical philosophical disquisition, and it's on this level that it reads best. First novelist de Botton writes well--dozens of sentences glisten with aphoristic insight--but neither Chloe nor Alain really engage our interest, and their story seems too slight to support all the heavy philosophizing. Recommended only for sentimental young romantics with a penchant for philosophy, readers who thought Nicholas Baker's Vox ( LJ 11/15/91) was profound, and writing teachers who need an example of what happens when you write a novel before you have much life experience.-- Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
Boston Sunday Globe
Imagine, of all impossible things, a young British Woody Allen with the benefit of a classical education and you have the nameless and exquisitely erudite narrator of On Love, a first novel by Alain de Botton, who seems to have been born to write.
The News & Observer
The smart and funny On Love is just the strong cup of coffee needed to clear your head after a sticky sweat like The Bridges of Madison County. On Love is romantic reality.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802142405
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/9/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 194
  • Sales rank: 247,916
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.46 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 19, 2013

    What a delight! This gem of a novel is like nothing else I've ev

    What a delight! This gem of a novel is like nothing else I've ever read. It shows just how precisely Alain de Botton understands human behavior. I constantly found myself ringing or groaning as I saw my own relationship misteps brilliantly illustrated. Definitely worth your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2007

    Excellent read!!

    I must say this is a book that I can pick up at different periods of my life and consistently relate to each line De Botton writes. I agree that any person who as ever been in love, or has had the illusion of being in love would very much relate to this novel. It was both inspirational and entertaining to be with this character through such a relization into love....I would say it is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2007

    too erudite?

    I don't understand the criticisms that de Botton's book is 'too erudite' or pretentious. Have we all become so stupid that this book is really over our heads? This gem of a maiden-voyage is most certainly not an exaggerated attempt to flaunt the author's classical education. Botton's literary style is quite mature, but one he continues to employ in every subsequent book, as any close reader of his work would acknowledge. De Botton is no Jennifer Weiner...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2002

    Once you get into it, very good

    I have to admit this book is very hard to get into. But once you get past the erudite language, there are some ideas that are amazing in their simplicity, and at the same time, their complexity. For example, he talks about breaking up with his girlfriend over a pair of shoes she bought that he finds hideous. These kind of realistic moments are turned into scholarly statements on life. A truly satirical, lighthearted novel at heart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2000

    beuatifully true

    'on love' is a beautifully true novel. if you have ever been in love, you will feel like this is written for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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