Rummanah Aasi

Description: Spanning eras and cultures from ancient Rome to medieval England to 1950s Hollywood, Jennifer Wright's It Ended Badlyguides 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?

Review: It Ended Badly is the perfect Adult to YA crossover narrative nonfiction. It is incredibly funny, entertaining, and educational. Heartache in life is inevitable and it even happens to famous people in history. There are 13 couples in this book that place from ancient Rome up to 1964. The stories depict how much we have and have not changed in our social mores  in regards to love, relationships, double standards, and gender expectations. In each story the author provides background on the couple as well as historical context of the time period and the events leading up to the breakup. Primary and secondary sources are included and used effectively to remind us that these couple are real people because these stories are so outlandish and hard to believe happened in real life.
   I already knew a few of the stories that were included in the book: King Henry VIII and wives Anne Boylen and Catherine Howard, Catherine Lamb and Lord Byron, and Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas. I still read these stories with relish as I learned new tidbits about these powerful people. There many other stories that I did not know of and caused me to jump into many research rabbit holes to learn  more. Wright muses that heartbreak does not distinguish among the rich, poor, and eccentric. Whether their culture tolerated cruelty and murder that was not acceptable in many other time periods (Nero and Poppaea Sabina), condemned homosexuals to a prison sentence or worse (Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas), or even tolerated their bizarre behavior (Oskar Kokoschka and Alma Mahler), each breakup left its mark on the individuals involved. It is odd too see that the ways people break up (i.e. ghosting, making the same mistake twice, body image issues, etc) are not so new and unique to our time period.
 It Ended Badly is the perfect anti-Valentine's Day book. It is also a great read for those who ever thought history is boring and for those that need a page-turner for a weekend read.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: This is not the sanitized history we read in history textbooks. There are mentions of sexual assault, domestic abuse, language, and sexual situations. Recommended for older teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Modern Love by Aziz Ansari, Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature by Betsy Bird, How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg
3 Responses
  1. This sounds fun and so interesting. I want to check it out.


  2. I always told my high school students that history is the biggest gossip story of them all. I like that this book is along those lines! :-)


  3. Anne Bennett Says:

    Just added this to my TBR list. Thank you.


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