This is a kind of hybrid novel/philosophical study of romantic love. The plot is, on the surface, a rather conventional one; a man and woman meet and fall in love. Most of the book, however, consists of the narrator (the male lover) reflecting on each stage of the process, from initial attraction to the despair of love's departure. What is perhaps most striking about Essays In Love is how Alain De Botton manages to combine passion and intellect. He is able to adroitly mix a scholarly, intellectual analysis with truly felt emotions. He is also extremely perceptive regarding the often perverse nature of our emotions. For example, he illustrates the tendency of someone in love to feel less highly of the loved one if he or she reciprocates the feeling. From this book, I'd guess De Botton has a background in Western philosophy, as the bulk of the references are from this field. Plato, Kant, Nietzsche, and many others are quoted. Yet the book is never dry or academic; the rawness of the lovers' emotions is always there to keep our hearts as well as our minds intrigued. James Wilby, the reader, perfectly captures the ideas, feelings and nuances of the story.