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A book, they say, is a faithful friend in time of need. And if you ever needed a friend, it’s in the aftermath of a breakup…
Heartbreak — the agony of lost love, the ache of a disintegrating relationship, the depression that comes with a one-way ticket to Splitsville — is no fun at any time of year. But getting dumped during the holiday season is orders of magnitude worse. A kiss-off under the mistletoe can ruin Christmas — not just this year, but for years to come, as twinkling lights become the trigger for waves of painful memories.
This holiday season, if your bells have lost their jingle and your nights are all too silent, you can take comfort (if not joy) in a simple, eternal truth: Misery loves company. That’s why Meghan Laslocky has collected narratives of romantic woe from two millennia of history, folk tradition, and the arts — from medieval ballads to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — into one handy resource. Pocket compendia like this are often characterized as “bathroom readers,” but the proper place for Laslocky’s The Little Book of Heartbreak is by the couch, within easy reach as you sprawl at right angles on your hungover Boxing Day, a glass of red wine in your free hand and the TV tuned to the Lifetime Movie network with the sound turned down, staring absent-mindedly at the phone you know isn’t going to ring.
Or maybe it’s a can of Pabst and reruns of Cops. Because although Meghan Laslocky is a certified lay-dee and The Little Book of Heartbreak tends towards the chick-centric, it offers compassion and empathy to the dudes, as well. Heartbreak does no discriminate. Anyone can blindsided by love gone wrong, no matter what’s down the front of their trousers. (Or what isn’t. The most vivid of Laslocky’s historical anecdotes concerns the famously doomed love affair of Abelard and Heloise; if you don’t know the story, I won’t spoil it — but suffice it to say that something seriously heinous happens to one guy’s junk.)
But just because we’re all susceptible to sorrow, that’s not to say the male and female perspectives are the same. Indeed, one of the saddest recurring themes of The Little Book of Heartbreak is how easily a relationship can be undone by the differing expectations of the partners — and how often those expectations break down across gender lines. Men and women, she suggests, simply want different things out of love — indeed, may even have different definitions for the word “love”…
Read the rest of this article at Kirkus Reviews!