Book Review: Notes on Heartbreak by Annie Lord

About the Book:

Dark, fierce and raw, Notes on Heartbreak is a love story told in reverse, starting with a devastating and unexpected break-up.

As Annie Lord reels from a broken heart, her stunning memoir revisits the past, from the moment she first fell in love, the shared in-jokes and intertwining of a long-term relationship, to the months that saw the slow erosion of a bond five years in the making. Alongside her memories, Annie charts her attempts to move on, from disastrous rebound sex to sending ill-advised nudes, stalking her ex’s new girlfriend on Instagram and the sharp indignity of being ghosted.

This stunning exploration of love and heartbreak from cult journalist and Vogue columnist Annie Lord, is so much more than a book about one singular break-up. It is an unflinchingly honest yet lyrical meditation on the simultaneous joy and pain of being in love that will resonate with anyone who has ever nursed a broken heart. It’s a book about the best and worst of love: the euphoric and the painful, the beautiful and the messy.

Published by Hachette Australia – Trapeze

Released 28th July 2022

My Thoughts:

One of the best things about being a book reviewer is receiving books from publishers that I would not normally have chosen for myself. Books that wouldn’t have even been on my radar. I know a lot of reviewers who don’t like this, but for me, many of these books have turned out to be the absolute best of reads. Notes on Heartbreak is exactly one of these. It’s a memoir, I guess, which is usually a hard no from me, but then it doesn’t read like a memoir, and it doesn’t follow the usual formula for memoirs either, and in some ways, it also nudges into self-help without actually being a self-help book. It reads like a novel, which was intuitively appealing to me, at times giving me Bridget Jones feels yet knowing all the while that, unlike Bridget Jones Diary, this was all true, not made up, and all the more powerful for it. To lay yourself open like this, it’s entirely impressive, and to do so with such introspection and intelligence as well. Annie Lord can write, wow, can she ever, and this book…well, it’s affected me more than I could have ever anticipated.

It actually took me more than a week to read Notes on Heartbreak, which is quite a long time for me. I told myself it was because the book was almost four hundred pages long and I had been reading it in a week where I was working almost 38 hours and juggling way too many balls at once. Yet, I regularly work weeks like this and my whole life is about juggling, so why, with a book I was enjoying so much, was it taking me so long to read? I was definitely lingering over it and taking my time with it, because despite reading like a novel, it was still non-fiction and that, for some reason, always slows my reading down by at least twenty-five percent, at a minimum. But none of these things are why it was taking me so long. The truth of it is that this book was unstitching me, tugging at things I thought I’d dealt with and resonating with me to the point of distraction. It’s stirred up all these thoughts within me and even though I was desperate to keep reading it and just get on with it, I would dip in and out and then wander around with my thoughts for ages before repeating the process.

They say the best books are the ones that make you feel, that resonate, that reach out beyond their pages to you. I don’t know if this book will mean as much to you as it did to me. For me, it became about me, as much as it was about Annie. If you haven’t had a breakup ever, or recently, it might not be of interest at all. Or maybe, like me, you’ll think you’re over your breakup and that reading this book will be a bit of entertainment while drinking tea and taking a break from life. Maybe, like me, you will find yourself completely undone for the duration. In 2020, within the thick of Covid lockdowns, my marriage ended. It’s been almost two years now, and my life is so much better than I ever thought it would be, and despite the pain and anger that the end brought to my life, and to that of my almost adult children, I have no regrets. And yet, I still have times of crippling grief, when I have to pull my car over because I’m inexplicably crying, or my fingers go to automatically text a number that is no longer in my favourites and I feel overcome with the loss of no longer being able to do that. What I loved about Notes on Heartbreak is that as Annie discovers and shares with such a raw and unbreakable truth is that this is okay. You don’t just one day wake up over it. It’s a process and sometimes that process takes a long time, stretching even into the time when you think you’re completely fine and your heart is mostly healed.

“Perhaps no one ever forgets anyone. We keep parts of them inside us forever and they come out in the moments we need them. Like ghosts who can’t find their way to the afterlife.”

Reading this book has been so cathartic. I spent twenty-seven years in a relationship with a man who I fell in love with as a teenager, who I had three children with, who I shaped my life around. Moving on, no matter how much I wanted it, has been hard. And until reading this book I kept thinking to myself, what is wrong with you, why does this bother you still, or upset you, or hold you back…why, why, why, do you still feel anything at all about this when you wanted it so badly. Because, twenty-seven years is a long time, and despite the indifference and anger that peppered the years, that one person was, throughout, my confidant, the one who shouldered the burden of life that I couldn’t carry. He was my person. And that’s hard to let go of. I feel like reading Notes on Heartbreak has been the most effective therapy I’ve ever had. Truly. This book is an amazing gift. I love how Annie talks about moving on to someone new, how that in itself is a process. The part I love the most though is how she rediscovers herself and starts to make all these realisations about the many ways in which she lost herself and didn’t take care of herself throughout the relationship. This journey back to your own self is the part about the last two years that I have enjoyed the most and like Annie, the support of my friends along the way has been invaluable beyond words.

“I thought love had to come from a boyfriend, but you can find it in friends too. They bolster me and build me up, and being with them is like being in a support group. Like having a bunch of sponsors you can call on when they’re needed.”

I am now at the point where I am moving onto to someone else, someone quite amazing, and yet, at least once every day I am terrified of it and wonder how long it will take me to botch it up and whether it’s better to just call it a day before someone gets hurt. This is okay too. I won’t always feel this way. I just need to trust the process and myself. The heart is a muscle after all, it’s strong and can withstand much, and really, if you’re lucky enough to find someone who it beats in time with, then that has to be worth the risk. At the end of the day, I am more in tune with myself now than I ever have been before and the power of that is phenomenal. You’ll have to forgive me for this self-indulgent ramble that is more reflective essay than book review, but before I was a reviewer, I was a writer, and sometimes certain books just bring that out in me. Notes on Heartbreak has prompted me to compile my own notes on heartbreak – and recovery. This is definitely an example of the universe handing you the right book at the right time.

“And it’s through this inner dialogue that you become conscious of yourself as someone you can talk to and have a relationship with. I look at her now in that mirror and she’s me and I am her, and although we’re the same thing I see that we can talk to each other even if I will always know what’s coming because she, her, me, is the only thing I can count on to be there for the whole of my life.”

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

#NotesonHeartbreak

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Notes on Heartbreak by Annie Lord

  1. Theresa, this is a phenomenal review, and I just wanted to send you so much love. To reach a reader in such a way is surely why we have books. Thank you for sharing. You’re a beautiful writer. Keep being you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Theresa, wonderful review. I really love reviews where there is such a personal connection with a text, for that is one of the driving purposes of writing. Thank you for sharing your story so bravely and honestly, and I wish you much happiness as you keep moving on. I haven’t personally been through a break up, but I have experience the sudden death of a partner. It is a different kind of loss, and even though that is approaching almost 20 years, I can still come undone by a word, book or even a movie. Absolutely no need to apologise for your reflective ramble – it moved me immensely. Ever think about returning to writing? Be kind to your heart and be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Theresa, what a touching and personal review. Shows the power of your writing, as well as extolling the virtues of Annie Lord’s. Thank you for sharing a little of your story, and wishing you all the very best xx

    Liked by 1 person

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