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Sample: Introduction

Winner of the 2023 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

For fans of Wild and Lab GirlHeartbreak  “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.

In Williams’ search for insight as well as personal strategies to game her way back to health, she tries it all–and listeners can hear it all–including exclusive (astonishing) bonus material from Williams’ most intimate moments: live and unscripted therapy sessions, gab fests with girlfriends, and the making and breaking of new romantic relationships. Join her in the laboratory as she tests her blood for genetic markers of grief, hear every sound of the wilderness as she searches for awe as an antidote to loneliness, and be a fly on the wall as she is guided through psilocybin and MDMA therapy.

Narrated by the author and accompanied by in-the-moment diary recordings and interviews, Florence Williams’ Heartbreak audiobook is an immersive endeavor that taps into one of the most shared experiences in the animal kingdom: heartbreak.

Florence Williams is the author of Breasts, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; the Audible Original The Three-Day Effect, and The Nature Fix. A contributing editor at Outside magazine, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, and many other outlets. She lives in Washington, DC.


“Part memoir, part medical investigation, “Heartbreak” thrives as an audiobook. Williams’s narration is interspersed with recordings of her conversations with lovers and experts, as well as her own journal entries, which are like getting a tour of the restaurant kitchen — seeing what the conclusions looked like when they were still questions.” — New York Times Book Review

“[A] show-stopping, offbeat story about the science of heartbreak…a courageous, whirlwind tale of healing and self-discovery.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A deep dive into the meaning of heartbreak. …Complex and thoughtfully researched, this book appealingly chronicles healing from emotional loss and offers fascinating scientific insights into the mechanics and impacts of romantic grief. A provocative and rewarding reading experience. —Kirkus Reviews

Heartbreak by Florence Williams is a graceful account of losing a marriage and finding another way of being. With vulnerability and veracity, Williams seeks various modes of understanding the physicality of loss. Whoever has felt the blistering heat of a broken heart will thank Florence Williams for a clear moving river of discoveries.”—Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion.

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