Book Review | The Breakup Monologues #20booksofsummer21

Book fifteen, I can’t quite believe it and I’m rounding off my challenge with a book that I just suddenly felt in the mood for and that is a bit different to what I’ve been reading lately.

The Breakup Monologues
Rosie Wilby

Mixing humour, heartache and science, award-winning comedian, author and accidental relationship guru Rosie Wilby embarks on a quest to investigate, understand and conquer the psychology of heartbreak. Tragedy plus time equals comedy, right?

In 2011, comedian Rosie Wilby was dumped by email. .. though she did feel a little better about it after correcting her ex’s spelling and punctuation. Obsessing about breakups ever since, she embarked on a quest to investigate, understand and conquer the psychology of heartbreak.

That quest proved to be a creatively fertile one, resulting in Rosie’s acclaimed podcast The Breakup Monologues. She decided to ask her colleagues on the circuit about their experiences of romantic disaster and recovery, thinking, ‘if one group of people have become adept at learning from catastrophe it is comedians. The worst onstage deaths are the performances that enlighten us most about how to improve.’ She wondered if comics had been able to transfer this ‘fail better’ logic to love.

This book is a love letter to her breakups, a celebration of what they have taught her peppered with anecdotes from illustrious friends and interviews with relationship therapists, scientists and sociologists about separating in the modern age of ghosting, breadcrumbing and conscious uncoupling. Her plan is to assimilate their advice and ideas in order to not break up with Girlfriend, her partner of nearly three years. Will this self-confessed serial monogamist, and breakup addict, finally settle down?

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Strangely enough, I was about to attempt this book a few months ago and then suddenly felt like it might end up making me feel quite sad, even though the description does not paint that picture my brain thought breakup and went to a sad place. So I put it aside but then recently I just suddenly felt the need to read something that wasn’t fiction and would be insightful and this book popped back into my head, and I’m so glad that it did.

This book isn’t strictly just about breakups, in a way it celebrates love in its different forms and how these experiences shape us as people. I think what I really liked about the message of this book is that breakups, whilst difficult, make us learn more about ourselves and can actually on reflection be beneficial to our growth. I definitely feel like I have come away from this book feeling a lot more at peace with previous breakups after thinking about what I have learned from them.

I really enjoyed the conversational style of this book, it was a bit like being part of a chat between friends rather than a kind of clinical look at the topic, it was great to explore the subject through Rosie’s lens and relationships, especially because it looked at these relationships and breakups from out with the heteronormative gaze. It was really interesting to discover the differences with breakups between different genders and sexual preferences and also that it included breakups of friendships and working relationships, it made the reading experience feel so inclusive.

There are also inserts of stories from the author’s friends about breakups that made me laugh and cringe at the same time and great recommendations for songs and movies to watch. However I think one thing that I really enjoyed above the rest were the footnotes, sometimes further research and explanation sometimes witty and hilarious comments that added that extra dose of humour and were always well-timed.

I will admit that I did not know that this book was based on a podcast and I am delighted to hear it because I am now looking forward to getting that experience as well, it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. The Breakup Monologues is a book that I think will feel relevant to a lot of people, it is a funny and engaging way to look at what can be a very sad and stressful subject and tries to find the positives in these experiences.

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