Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey
May 5, 2022 3:49 PM - Subscribe

"When her twenty-five-year marriage suddenly falls apart, journalist Florence Williams expects the loss to hurt. But when she starts feeling physically sick, losing weight and sleep, she sets out in pursuit of rational explanation. She travels to the frontiers of the science of “social pain” to learn why heartbreak hurts so much—and why so much of the conventional wisdom about it is wrong."

It's a memoir, with science. Or maybe bits of science, tied together by the story of a single heartbreak. Reviews: Kirkus; Publishers Weekly; Goodreads.
posted by MonkeyToes (3 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I read this! It was a good read -- so well written -- but not particularly memorable nor did it meet my high expectations. I wanted more resolution at the end but the ending made sense, all things considered.

As someone who is almost 40 and never been married, I used to be sad about this at times. Now after reading it -- and seeing friends in similar spots, I see how never having been married is actually a blessing in many ways. I am open to love but also completely self-reliant and know who I am. It's so sad when people like the author are not only dealing with the loss of a relationship but also struggling to set up an adult life alone, often for the first time, while having the weight of that trauma as well. I know it's kind of self-indulgent to think this but, for me, it's really about thinking beyond myself in compassionate ways.

What did you think of it?! I also recently read Amy Bloom's In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss, which had a very different focus but paired nicely.
posted by smorgasbord at 7:24 PM on May 20


Also, that poly guy she dated? Ugh I hate him so much. So selfish and sus -- not for his leanings but his behavior in general. I wish she hadn't kept him around, even as a friend. People like me who have been single and dating for a long time know to avoid dudes like that but, unfortunately, it seems they prey on the vulnerable and freshly single.
posted by smorgasbord at 7:25 PM on May 20


I'm glad I read it, though it's a read-once. I started reading this book at the same time I began Susan Cain's Bittersweet--similar topics--but could not stick with the Cain. There was something about the pop-sci-ness of its tone that put me off. Williams put herself at the center of her own book, and that worked for me: she is trying to figure things out, and, magpie-like, amasses bits and pieces without trying to prove a grand theory or explanation. It's tentative in that way--but then there's the lovely writing on her own journey, and I liked the ending a lot. It's human-scaled.

He Divorced Me on Land—but I Left My Marriage on the River is an excerpt, and worth reading if you're not sure about committing to the whole book.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:43 AM on May 21


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