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Love Gone Wrong Through the Ages

by Meghan Laslocky

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-452-29832-3
Publisher: Plume

Fun but uneven collection of essays on the love troubles of historical and cultural figures.

TV producer Laslocky emphasizes that though these dramatic breakups may have happened centuries ago and on different continents, "the lives of others…illustrate the universal ways in which we cope with love gone wrong.” She examines heartbreak from a variety of perspectives, dividing the book into sections: History, Culture, Music and Art, Film and Literature, Conclusion and Practical Advice. Many of the stories may not be well-known to readers—e.g., the courtroom drama of Renaissance Italian lovers Giovanni della Casa and Lusanna Nucci or Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka's decision to create a life-sized puppet version of his ex-lover, Alma Mahler. Though the bulk of the book is made up of essays focusing on a particular person, movie or song, the "Culture" section includes essays on psychology, history and cultural practices such as arranged marriages. The most compelling essays are lengthy enough to be satisfying but short enough to be easily digestible. However, the end of the book, particularly the section on music, is uneven—e.g., two-page throwaways on Morrissey and Carly Simon follow a 12-page chapter on Franz Liszt. These drastic shifts in length and level of detail and research frustrate the expectations of readers hoping to learn more about subjects she only briefly mentions. It is easy to imagine a reader wanting more information about the "quintessential breakup album," Joni Mitchell's Blue, to which the author devotes only one page.

Most of the essays are intriguing and detailed, but others will leave readers wanting more.