Whilst studying the Future Learn course Mental Health and Literature, the educators chose to feature heartbreak amongst other medical conditions. As bibliotherapy is a particular interest, and something that has real medical value, the principal of using stories and poetry to help with the pain and suffering of heartbreak is a strong one. Sometimes books can show you a path through heartbreak by highlighting the plights of the protagonist, but books can also be used to evoke certain emotions in order to work through them. Beware your choices.
The following reads have been suggested by a variety of sources, the synopsis are provided by Goodreads:
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
As It Is In Heaven by Niall Williams
Set in the west of Ireland and Venice, this book features a shy and unconfident schoolteacher and his lovelorn and depressed father whose only desire is to die and join his wife and daughter in heaven.
After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell
Alice Raikes takes a train from London to Scotland to visit her family, but when she gets there she witnesses something so shocking that she insists on returning to London immediately. A few hours later, Alice is lying in a coma after an accident that may or may not have been a suicide attempt.
So Long See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
On an Illinois farm in the 1920s, a man is murdered, and in the same moment the tenous friendship between two lonely boys comes to an end. In telling their interconnected stories, American Book Award winner William Maxwell delivers a masterfully restrained and magically evocative meditation on the past.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.