The Breakup Monologues
The Breakup Monologues: The Unexpected Joy of Heartbreak
By Rosie Wilby,
published by Bloomsbury Publishing/Green Tree 2021
Book Review by Kathy Labriola
Rosie Wilby is a British stand-up comedian and journalist whose award-winning podcast, “The Breakup Monologues,” took the world by storm with its guests telling very intimate, painful, and sometimes hilarious stories about their relationships and particularly about their most spectacularly disastrous breakups.
Rosie is a lesbian who had been through several very bruising breakups of her own, and through each one, had experienced both intense pain and unexpected personal growth. The wisdom and humor in the podcast episodes really struck a chord with a far flung audience in the UK and far beyond, as the universal experience of romance and heartbreak resonated with people of all sexual orientations, classes, ages, nationalities, and ethnicities. She says, “If you really want to know about breakups, you should ask a lesbian.” Why? “Lesbians are the unofficial, unrecognized champions of breakups. Statistically speaking, we go through more breakups in a lifetime than anyone else.” (And she does provide statistics to prove it.)
Eventually, life lessons gleaned from interviewing guests on the podcast, as well as hard-won gains from Rosie’s own relationship dramas, became the core of this book. It should be required reading for anyone going through a breakup, as well as anyone entering a new relationship, as each breakup informs our approach to the next relationship as well as future partner choices. We can only hope to learn enough from a breakup to become a better partner the next time, as well as to be much more selective and choose a more compatible partner this time around.
Rosie is very honest and vulnerable in describing her relationships and breakups throughout her 20’s and 30’s. To protect the guilty parties, she euphemistically titles each of her serious relationships Nice Ex-girlfriend, Boozy Ex-girlfriend, Secretive Ex-girlfriend, Agoraphobic Ex-girlfriend, and Older Ex-girlfriend, as well as a short-lived but important romance with someone she calls The Bisexual Comedian. Now in her peri-menopausal 40’s, she believes she has hit the jack pot with the woman she calls simply Girlfriend, who she believes is a keeper, and with whom she now has the happiest and healthiest (as well as the longest) relationship of her life. She had always believed that each relationship was a huge failure, and each breakup just proved that she would never succeed in love. However, hosting the podcast and writing the book has convinced her that she needed each relationship, and each breakup, and that each was a necessary part of her journey to eventually create a happy and sustainable relationship.
While Rosie’s own romantic adventures are poignant and comical (usually at the same time), her podcast interviews with other women are often laugh out loud hilarious. Chapter such as “I thought I’d been ghosted but he just went to prison,” “The Moths of Doom,” “Sex and Death,” and Hormonal Hell” are definitely just as bizarre and funny as they sound. She also kindly includes “A Breakup Playlist” and “A few of my favorite breakup films” for your listening and viewing pleasure in case you are currently going through a breakup and really want to wallow in self-pity and despair, or at least to distract yourself with someone else’s painful breakup stories.
Somewhere in this book, you will definitely recognize yourself, as you find yourself reading something eerily identical to one of your very own breakups. The universal pain of heartbreak may jump out at you from the page, as you remember some of what you went through, and hopefully some of the grace and wisdom you gleaned from that very painful experience.