On Love

On Love

4.5 7
by Alain de Botton
     
 

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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

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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.

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:
02/09/2006
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
194
Sales rank:
354,108
Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 7.46(h) x 0.36(d)

What People are saying about this

Josephine Hart
"A dazzlingly original, erudite and worth journey through all the vagaries of romantic love. A total delight."

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