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Publisher's Summary

In this intimate and voyeuristic audiobook, Florence Williams uses her personal voice diary and journals and conversations with experts, family, and friends to explore the fascinating, cutting-edge science of heartbreak while seeking creative ways to mend her own.  

For fans of Wild and Lab Girl, Heartbreak "thrives as an audiobook" (New York Times Book Review), merging science and self-discovery in an immersive experience that changes the way we think about loneliness, health, and what it means to fall in and out of love. 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.  

In the audiobook, Florence invites the listener to hear the entire experience - narrated by her, accompanied by in-the-moment diary recordings, and exclusive (astonishing) bonus material that can only be heard here.   

©2022 Florence Williams (P)2022 Pushkin Industries

Critic Reviews

"[A] show-stopping, offbeat story about the science of heartbreak.... Unflagging research - [Williams] 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)

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What listeners say about Heartbreak

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If you’re a serious person trust me skip this book.

This is a rage rant. It’s what happened after I kept sticking with it listening to this book - eventually you snap!
I know it’s her first time being heart broken, and it’s upsetting and i know people can get obsessed with their own Breakup pain becuase it can all feel momentous, a breakthrough for breakups as a whole, poetic. But oh my god! This entire book is her being enamored by this experience of feelings she’s having and letting it seduce her into the feeling of deep deep specialness. But most of us have done this already, multiple times! Imagine thinking we should alert the media because we are grieving?? Cause of a breakup? Who you think you are, Joan Didion? And if you’re not, what can you add to a universal human condition that we need and that Joan Didion hasn’t said already. About finding her dead husband, not being dumped by a boring man.

I have had my heart broken and I don’t know if I’ll ever recover, and I don’t want to listen to you try to rebound with a loser douche bag because I already went through my 18 year old broken heart leading to my finding myself under some obvious creep because they held some delusion of a promise. And yeah the body keeps the score of cptsd. Duh. I’m 43 now. There’s a reason I don’t want to get my mirroring from 18 year olds, or frankly the glaringly unwise. Because they think I want to get my info about grief, trauma, neuroscience, physical health, love, redemption from a book where a peppy self obsessed, self-enamored, chronically “adorable” divorcé talks endlessly about themselves and their divorce! And the audacity too. I mean walking with a group of sex trafficking survivors and relating their momentous recovery to her own journey is unbelievable! After telling these women’s stories the author needs to think real deep cause she’s very moved by these “strong women” and they helped her realized her job now is figuring out what autonomy is for her, reclaiming her body as her own, her SELF as her own, since she’s been married for so long so wasn’t a one but a two, but now she’s a one, and that’s new, who am I? It’s just like these young women who were trafficked, jailed, addicted, abused from day one .
I basically just skip the entire book until she gets to a scientist. I thought I was buying a science book, but man, the science/girl talk personal essay ration is like 20/80, and that’s generous. It’s mostly just her being that one drunk friend who you gave to fully cut ties with because they just go on and on about their relationships and their breakthroughs and new revelations about themselves and their old relationship - yeah no thanks bye

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NOT HELPFUL

I wanted to finish this book. I really did. As someone who's lived with heartbreak of one sort or another my entire life, I wanted to learn more about it. I got halfway thru this endless diatribe of scary statistics about how much sooner I'm likely to die (and how much sicker I'm likely to be before I do) before I threw in the proverbial towel. I live alone, and not by choice. It's the way things have worked out. I already know full good and well that I'm lonely and varying degrees of miserable without a companion. And now, thanks to Florence Williams, I know that I am evidently more miserable and doomed than even I knew. Thanks. Thanks a bunch, lady.

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So annoying

I really did try to listen to this story and thought I would learn something interesting. I could not finish it. The author really got on my nerves- she is extremely entitled and privileged, flying off all over the world to give talks and interview "scientists" (who are using lab animals to assess the impact of loneliness- really?) and other folks as she tries to make sense of her divorce. She has 2 wonderful children and a dog but oh my- how she suffers. Her life is nothing like that of many divorced women who lose their economic base and are involved in custody battles. Then she gets involved with a disgusting predatory man- when he asks if he's a bad person, her response is no, but he indeed takes terrible advantage of many vulnerable women in his "harem". Please skip this book. She has nothing to offer to most divorced women. I returned it.

5 people found this helpful

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Take this journey with the author!

I highly recommend this revealing journey through divorce and the life altering changes that a woman goes through. It was full of enlightenment and thoughtful research. Loved the live recordings throughout and the various ways she explored healing. I am not divorced but could definitely relate to her story.

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Absolutely wonderful content and presentation

Florence Williams has outdone herself (Nature Fix being one of my favorite books)! I will listen to this book again and recommend it to everyone. A timely find for me as I reflect on my own heartbreak stories and the importance of nature’s ability to heal and connect us all. The narration was not a typical “author reading book” format. I loved the podcast style- it was like listening to a well done documentary - with its music, audio journal clips. I didn’t want to stop listening! Thank you!

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one of the best audiobooks I've ever heard

I usually listen to fiction but Heartbreak was one the most compelling, fascinating and often thrilling listens I've enjoyed and surprisingly so. Mixing in sound from her audio journal, interviews and even her dates, with wonderful prose, Williams takes us on a quest and a heroine's journey to understand her own heartbreak on the end of her 30 year relationship in the context of the universal. She meets with biologists, psychologists, takes a wilderness trek with sex trafficking survivors, takes magic mushrooms, solos down a desert river for weeks, explores the human experience of rejection, awe, loneliness, and somehow with her wonderful prose, humor, warmth and wisdom makes it into a thrilling page turning romp about what actually happens when a heart breaks and how it heals. This book is a gift.

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Soul Punching

I love the intimacy and truth. Thank you for taking us on your healing journey.

2 people found this helpful

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Trying to finish this book was murder.

I found the advice and anecdotes more depressing than the book. Saying single people die sooner than married people is an over generalization. To make a statement like that is a slap in the face to all of the successful singles. Can't and won't finish this book.

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perfection

FANTASTIC. Just what I've been searching for in the wake of my own divorce.. Captivating and beautifully read.

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Heartbreakingly good...

This book shook me. I had listened to The Nature Fix by Florence Williams and in that book she referenced her collapsed marriage and so when I saw this I knew I would get it. It was heartbreakingly good. I learned so much about the science of heartbreak, relived some of my own heartbreaks, and felt like I had gone on a long wilderness journey through hearts, brains, and canyons dripping with tears.

There were moments I cried when she talks about shared community trauma and heartbreak in natural disasters. There were moments that I felt elated when she tried MDMA and shrooms in a therapeutic setting. The science of how our hearts break and how relationships can affect our physical and mental health was mind boggling and felt in her words and narration.

Listen with your heart open and maybe listen when you feel grounded and stable.

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  • Missy
  • 04-29-22

Audio

A forensic but messily human, personal but also universal study of what happens to your body and brain when you are left by someone you love – and how to heal. One of those rare books that is actually much better to listen to as an audiobook rather than read as there are interviews with experts and snippets of the conversations the author had with people – friends, her therapist, fellow broken hearteds. A compelling and oddly comforting listen for anyone going through the agony of divorce/breakup, especially if it is not what you wanted.

PS – Ennis is a douche

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-10-22

Loved this book

Beautifully written, and read. So insightful, and relatable to anyone that's been through it

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  • Longshanks
  • 04-03-22

Heartbreak is real and life changing

Really helpful, bringing understanding, insight and hope. I have cried and felt so much hope. I am going into my 7th year after separation (2nd since divorce) and a recent loss of a new partner and love. Only recently have I been able to mourn these losses. This book has helped me so much thank you xx…

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  • nat miller
  • 04-30-22

Heartbreak

Great Listen .. understanding Heartbreak helps to put things into perspective. This happens to everyone . Worth a listen if you ve just been dumped .

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  • Jan
  • 02-06-22

Researched and personal. Fascinating.

After the collapse of a 30-year marriage Florence Williams uses her professional expertise as a science journalist and her lifelong interest in canoeing to find effective ways through the pain of heartbreak.
She tests out all the usual advice and explores the science of biological markers, neuroscience, psychology and various therapies on herself with mixed results.
This book is at least as useful as books by doctors about how to live a long healthy life.

I wish I had this toolkit when my husband of 20 years left me. I found her concise reporting of the science of biological impact of emotions on the body the most interesting.
I have passed it on to friends. At least they know they aren’t going mad.