Stand-up comic and writer, Rosie Wilby‘s new book, The Breakup Monologues, is a part-memoir, part-psychology text branching off from her successful podcast series of the same name. Its mission is to examine the idea of breakups: What forms do they come in? Why do they hurt so much? And how might they ultimately help us? The skilled raconteur explores each of these ideas in detail, littering the book with anecdotes, research, and plenty of laughs.
Wilby begins by openly describing her own breakup history which settles the reader; we are in safe hands and feel her protective authority on the sensitive topic. If she is able to laugh at the memories of her own heartbreak then the reader knows it’s okay to reflect on theirs. From here on in, the psychology and sociology of breakups is dissected with both insight and levity; every chapter provides warm humour to lighten the science. Highlights include Wilby’s participation in a sexual arousal study, her performance of a comedy set featuring stories about her new girlfriend (while said new girlfriend is in the audience), and a boating holiday gone awry. Footnotes throughout also provide a mixture of informative references to research and relationship studies with more humorous titbits and illustrative memories.
In particular, a chapter on the chemical similarities between drug addiction and love is fascinating, pointing the reader to the actual biological reactions often felt after heartbreak – particularly after long-term relationships end. People are essentially withdrawing from opiates. These revelations are both interesting and also quite comforting to those who have experienced such sensations. Again, Wilby is always forthcoming about her own experiences (past and present) and therefore the book is a safe space for readers to reminisce, self-analyse, maybe even feel self-pity. And although the crux of the book is about romantic relationships, Wilby makes it clear that breakups do take many forms – the ends of friendships (equally as valid, sometimes more so), professional partnerships, and literal deaths.
The Breakup Monologues is utterly readable and engaging. It cleverly delves into a universal rite of passage, analysing it from a scientific and psychological angle while also being moving and invoking laughter. It’s a book to feel comfort with while also perhaps changing perspectives as the final chapters move towards a broader insight – that breakups can ultimately inspire evolution and personal growth.