January 22, 2016

Book Review: It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History by Jennifer Wright


Publication Date: November 2015

A history of heartbreak-replete with beheadings, uprisings, creepy sex dolls, and celebrity gossip-and its disastrously bad consequences throughout time.

Spanning eras and cultures from ancient Rome to medieval England to 1950s Hollywood, Jennifer Wright's It Ended Badly guides you through the worst of the worst in historically bad breakups. In the throes of heartbreak, Emperor Nero had just about everyone he ever loved-from his old tutor to most of his friends-put to death. Oscar Wilde's lover, whom he went to jail for, abandoned him when faced with being cut off financially from his wealthy family and wrote several self-serving books denying the entire affair. And poor volatile Caroline Lamb sent Lord Byron one hell of a torch letter and enclosed a bloody lock of her own pubic hair. Your obsessive social media stalking of your ex isn't looking so bad now, is it?

With a wry wit and considerable empathy, Wright digs deep into the archives to bring these thirteen terrible breakups to life. She educates, entertains, and really puts your own bad breakup conduct into perspective. It Ended Badly is for anyone who's ever loved and lost and maybe sent one too many ill-considered late-night emails to their ex, reminding us that no matter how badly we've behaved, no one is as bad as Henry VIII.

It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History by Jennifer Wright is the perfect book to read if you just suffered the end of a relationship and need the literary equivalent of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to make you feel better. Or maybe you’re just a singleton who wants to celebrate being unattached. This book is for you. Wright has culled 13 breakups that rank as the most extreme and bizarre.  As you delve into each one, you will experience shock, amusement and inevitable relief that no matter how bad your own breakup was, at least you weren’t beheaded by your ex, like Anne Boleyn was. 

To illustrate Wright’s fun and witty writing style, the book opens with two quotes – one from Buddha, and the other from Taylor Swift. Each chapter, which focuses on a different historical coupling and uncoupling, has such titles as “If your family didn’t like your ex and thought you could do better read about Lucrezia Borgia and Giovanni Sforza” and “If you have just sent your ex a very intense emotional e-mail read about Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron.”  Clearly, Wright enjoyed herself writing this entertaining book.  

If you are lying in bed right now, a pint of ice cream in one hand, a bottle of Scotch in the other, and this book clenched between your teeth (one tooth is missing from last night’s bar fight), with tears streaming down your face over how much you loved, loved, loved your ex, let me commend you on how well you are coping. You could be doing so much worse. So much worse.

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