Rahib and Kirsten meet in Edinburgh: they go on a few dates, sleep together, meet each other’s parents and enjoy the dizzying wonder of opening their soul to another human being. Rahib proposes; Kirsten accepts; they marry. And that’s where most fictions end: with wedding bells and the start of a new life together, implicitly full of happiness. But Alain De Botton’s thoughtful, wise novel asks a searching question. What if love is not the breathless romantic longing that brings about a marriage, but the hard graft that succeeds it? What if that story, of struggle, compromise, arguments, reconciliation, loneliness, determination and occasional fury was the one really worth reading?