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Heartbreak: Book summary and reviews of Heartbreak by Florence Williams

Heartbreak

A Personal and Scientific Journey

by Florence Williams

Heartbreak by Florence Williams X
Heartbreak by Florence Williams
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About this book

Book Summary

Florence Williams explores the fascinating, cutting-edge science of heartbreak while seeking creative ways to mend her own.

When her twenty-five-year marriage unexpectedly falls apart, journalist Florence Williams expects the loss to hurt. What she doesn't expect is that she'll end up in the hospital, examining close-up the way our cells listen to loneliness. 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.

Searching for insight as well as personal strategies to game her way back to health, Williams tests her blood for genetic markers of grief, undergoes electrical shocks in a laboratory while looking at pictures of her ex, and ventures to the wilderness in search of awe as an antidote to loneliness. For readers of Wild and Lab Girl, Heartbreak is a remarkable merging of science and self-discovery that will change the way we think about loneliness, health, and what it means to fall in and out of love.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] show-stopping, offbeat story about the science of heartbreak...Unflagging research—she even flies to London to interview Britain's first 'minister of loneliness'—and the author's vulnerability make for an impressive and moving survey. This is a courageous, whirlwind tale of healing and self-discovery." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Complex and thoughtfully researched, this book appealingly chronicles healing from emotional loss and offers fascinating scientific insights into the mechanics and impacts of romantic grief. A provocative and rewarding reading experience." - Kirkus Reviews

"Readers will appreciate Williams's candid portrayal of her personal journey and the book's understanding of heartbreak's impact on the human body." - Library Journal

"This surprisingly frank and funny book is what happens when a formidable science journalist turns her powers of observation and inquiry on her own broken heart." - Bonnie Tsui, author of Why We Swim

"What a powerful book. Williams captures the heartache of divorce and the crooked road back to living. Colorful, imaginative and poignant―Heartbreak tells a gripping story of courage, sex, and adventure packed with all the newest hard science on romance and attachment. I've studied love for over 40 years and I was taking notes. It's a magnificent, wise, and remarkable read!" - Helen Fisher, author of The Anatomy of Love

"Heartbreak by Florence Williams is a graceful account of losing a marriage and finding another way of being. With vulnerability and veracity, Williams seeks various modes of understanding the physicality of loss. Whoever has felt the blistering heat of a broken heart will thank Florence Williams for a clear moving river of discoveries" - Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion

This information about Heartbreak was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Michele B. (Wallingford, CT)

Fascinating and Comprehensive
Over the last several years I have been intrigued with heartbreak, loss, grieving and the varied ways people navigate and heal through these journeys. There are several reasons for my interest in these subjects. I am a nurse with a 40 yr. career focusing in the ER and Hospice; a caregiver of family members young and old through illness and death and like many, have and will continue to experience heartbreak.

Heartbreak by Florence Williams allowed us to look at Heartbreak from many different angles. As suggested in the subtitle personal and scientifically; and through the experience of others and through many interesting studies.

I found myself taking notes about things that really helped me to better understand reactions and feelings, of my own experiences, as well as others that I have witnessed.

As I read, I also found myself stopping and sharing things with others in the room that I really found interesting. I took notes of places that I wanted to visit (The Butterfly Garden) and or learn more about; (Cyberball) as well as other book references (both of Williams and other authors and experts).

For me this book was a page turner as it continued to pique my interest, at times not wanting to put it down; other times needing to put it down to soak in the heavy information. I found I was able to apply what I was learning to romantic heartbreak; traumatic loss; family dysfunction in its many forms and illness suffered from these loses (physical, phycological, spiritual).

By the end of the book, I felt I had insight into a few new tools that I could use and share on my life journey as the "hits" find their way and "keep on coming".

Full transparency there was one part especially that went too in depth; shared too much and was over all uncomfortable (in the OG Sin chapter)- I would have been able to glean the info needed without reading the very personal encounter in this chapter.

I participate in two book clubs and am anxious to share this book, until then I will be sharing other published works from Florence Williams. Thank you for this opportunity, it was truly "fascinating and comprehensive".

Sylvia T. (Rancho Mirage, CA)

Personal Heartbreak
I found Florence Williams' exploration into the realm of heartache to be enthralling. She turned her personal heartbreak into a research project that helped her endure the loss. This book balances personal memoir, scientific research, nature, and humor. It's overlaps with several books I've read recently being a Marriage Family Therapist. It's a great book and one that I would recommend for anyone that is looking to understand how love and loss impacts so much of how our bodies work.

Jessamyn R. (Odenton, MD)

Perfect mix of personal and universal
"My biggest problem at the moment was the portable toilet."
With a first line like that, how could you not be hooked? This book balances personal memoir, scientific research, nature, and wry humor. It's overlaps with several books I've read recently, like Together, but beat them all for me. Recommend to anyone who has ever loved, lost, or been a human.

Chris H. (Wauwatosa, WI)

Heartbreak
In this book, Florence Williams gives the reader her personal story of heartbreak and the science behind what one might feel when heartbroken. I found the science in this book very interesting and the author made it very readable. Ms. Williams holds nothing back in sharing her personal story. She takes us on her journey of how and where it took her to understand the physical as well as the emotional feelings of heartbreak. Something many people can relate to!

Becky S. (Springfield, MO)

So interesting!
This book was so interesting to me..and so relevant! All of us have experienced grief and /or heartbreak at one time or another in our lives, this author took hers and really delved into it and the physical attributes that it has on our bodies. I have always wondered what causes the actual pain in our heart, when we are sad or heartbroken, this book explores that and the other physical things that happens in our bodies with love and loss. I loved this book and the uniqueness of it all!

Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)

Heartbreak takes many forms.
This is one of my favorite BookBrowse offerings. So glad I received it. The parts on rejection hit me. I feel so sorry for the author. Her way out of the pain would not be mine. But we all suffer in different ways. The science woven together with the anecdotes and stories made it very understandable. Many of the statistics were very much applicable to my own story. I imagine almost everyone could use this book to some degree, if they were honest. I am going to share it with my niece who is a therapist and suffered a similar marital breakup. I may wait until it is published and buy her her own copy. I need to reread and remember more.

...18 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Florence Williams

Florence Williams is the author of Breasts, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Nature Fix. A contributing editor at Outside magazine, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, and many other outlets. She lives in Washington, DC.

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