Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing: ‘Funny, fascinating and compelling’ The Times

£11.90£23.80 (-50%)

‘There’s never been a more honest or raw memoir … and it may just save lives’ Daily Mail

‘Funny, fascinating, compelling … also a wonderful read for fans of Friends’ The Times

The beloved star of Friends takes us behind the scenes of the hit sitcom and his struggles with addiction in this candid, funny, and revelatory memoir that delivers a powerful message of hope and persistence.

Here is the riveting story of acclaimed actor Matthew Perry, who takes us along on his journey from childhood ambition to fame to addiction and recovery in the aftermath of a life-threatening health scare. Before the frequent hospital visits and stints in rehab, there was five-year-old Matthew, who travelled from Montreal to Los Angeles, shuffling between his separated parents; fourteen-year-old Matthew, who was a nationally ranked tennis star in Canada; twenty-four-year-old Matthew, who nabbed a coveted role as a lead cast member on the talked-about pilot then called Friends Like Us. . . and so much more.

In an extraordinary story that only he could tell – and in the heartfelt, hilarious, and warmly familiar way only he could tell it – Matthew Perry lays bare the fractured family that raised him (and also left him to his own devices), the desire for recognition that drove him to fame, and the void inside him that could not be filled even by his greatest dreams coming true. But he also details the peace he’s found in sobriety and how he feels about the ubiquity of Friends, sharing stories about his castmates and other stars he met along the way. Frank, self-aware, and with his trademark humour, Perry vividly depicts his lifelong battle with addiction and what fuelled it despite seemingly having it all.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing is an unforgettable memoir that is both intimate and eye-opening – as well as a hand extended to anyone struggling with sobriety. Unflinchingly honest, moving, and uproariously funny, this is the book fans have been waiting for.

‘An unflinching and often harrowing must-read for 90s pop culture fans’ Guardian

‘Written with Chandler’s trademark sarcasm and self-deprecation’ Telegraph

‘A hopeful read … I started to think of [it] not as a celebrity memoir about addiction, but as an addiction memoir written by a man who understands his own history through the prism of showbiz’ Independent

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Headline (1 Nov. 2022)




272 pages






15.8 x 3.2 x 23.8 cm

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( 6 Reviews )
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6 Reviews For This Product

  1. 06

    by Tracy W

    First off. Rest in peace Mr Perry.
    Still can’t believe it.
    This book was an eye opener. The only memoir so far I’ve not wanted to put down but at the same time not wanted to end.
    A wonderfully funny and talented guy who had everything but nothing at the same time.
    And that last chapter!
    He had clearly made a change and was looking forward to life without drugs alcohol and smoking.
    It’s so sad that he never got to share his love and clean life with someone special because of fear of rejection.
    That fear is so hard to overcome and he’s shown that in this book.
    I truly hope that his foundation helps others get sober and find happiness in time.

  2. 06

    by Big Andy


    For many years I’d heard that Matthew Perry had had serious problems with drugs and alcohol, but I was absolutely stunned by the intimate revelations contained in this audiobook. By any logic, Perry’s substance abuse should have killed him by now: his twin addictions to liquor and opiates should have ended his life many years ago. It’s an absolute miracle that the TV and movie star has made it to 53 years of age. Fortunately, Perry has survived for long enough to write and record this brilliant memoir. I found this audiobook to be utterly compelling: I listened to it all in just two days.

    This memoir is really two books in one. At one level it chronicles the life of a wannabe Canadian actor who migrates to Hollywood as a teenager and ends up living the American Fantasy, staring in the most commercially successful sit-com ever and making many millions of dollars. But on another level it’s the sad and appalling tale of a deeply damaged human being who spends decades battling with his crippling addictions. This level was for me the most interesting.

    The book begins in 2018, when Matthew Perry experienced the worst day of his life.

    While living in a rehabilitation facility with his female “sober companion” Perry suddenly experiences crippling stomach pains. The actor instantly realises that something is seriously wrong. After defying the facility’s staff, who believe the actor is just faking it as an excuse to leave and get high, Perry is rushed into a local hospital by his companion. While there, his colon “explodes” and he ends up in a two-week induced coma. He will eventually be required to wear a colostomy bag for months. The colon problem was caused, of course, by his drug and alcohol addictions. It’s this incident that finally causes Perry to for-once-and-for-all confront his demons.

    Perry then takes us back to his childhood, which is, of course, the cause of all his troubles. Soon after Perry’s 1969 birth in Massachusetts to a Canadian mother and an American Father, the future actor’s parents relocate to Ottawa, Canada, where Perry spends his next 15 years. Sadly, Perry’s parents divorce before their child’s first birthday and the father decides to return to the United States. John Perry heads for Hollywood, hoping to make it big as an actor.

    Back in Canada, Matthew Perry leads an unremarkable life: he’s an average student but does become a decent tennis player, good enough to be ranked nationally. He has his first drink at 14 and instantly falls in love with alcohol. His mother remarries and has four children with her new husband. Matthew now becomes the outsider in the new family unit; he also begins to argue bitterly with his mother. The foundations of his self-destructive life have been laid.

    Aged 15, Perry decides to join his father in California. He had been routinely visiting John from the age of 5, always travelling alone as an “unaccompanied minor” because his parents couldn’t stand the sight of each other. Perry is traumatised by those long, lonely flights to this day, he states. The unhappy child being shuttled back and forth across the North American continent grows up to be the unhappy adult who feels unlovable and who is terrified of commitment. Like many thousands of others who go to Hollywood, Matthew Perry decides that one day he is going to be rich and famous and even kneels down and prays to God for it to happen. For some reason Perry believes that fame and money will fill the “hole” inside him. Later, he discovers that it absolutely won’t.

    After years of minor roles and failed projects, in 1994 Perry finally hits the big time with Friends. Suddenly, he and his 5 other co-stars are the most famous faces on television. But his life soon begins to fall apart. After a minor accident Perry quickly develops an addiction to prescription opiates, which, coupled with his long-term dependency on alcohol, causes his life to spiral out of control. Soon, his ability to lead anything remotely like a normal existence is severely affected. Perry’s weight fluctuates and he is reduced to filming his movies and TV shows between stints in rehab. At one point he has to abandon the shooting of a film because he is too sick with his addictions.

    Like I stated earlier, this memoir is really two books in one. Perry’s recollections provide a fascinating insight into the American entertainment world of the Eighties, Nineties and beyond. The unknown Perry of the pre-Friends days scrambles around Hollywood looking for any acting work while drinking and partying with his young buddies. At times he and his pals are down to their last few dollars. But when mega-fame comes, jealousies quickly emerge. One of Perry’s closest friends abandons him and he doesn’t see him again for two years. Perry also senses resentment from his own father. And just how much luck played a part in Perry winning the role of Chandler Bing will amaze you.

    But the addiction part of the book is fascinating too. Sometimes this memoir reads like an odyssey of rehabilitation institutions. Perry has travelled from as far Switzerland to Utah and all over the US in his search for a cure to his problems. The actor estimates that he has spent in excess of 7 million US dollars in therapy and his stays at various rehabilitation units. He is very bitter at this, at one point questioning their usefulness and railing against their greed. His illness has cost him a considerable chunk of his fortune.

    The book ends on a positive note. At the time of finishing the writing of the memoir, in early 2022, Perry has been clean for some time. He has even managed to kick smoking after his doctor warned him that he was risking developing emphysema by the age of 60. The actor still lives with the sober companion and spends much of his time helping other addicts and campaigning for better understanding and help for other people with substance abuse problems. Sadly, Perry has never married nor had any children. The actor’s chronic inability to commit to a woman is highlighted throughout the book. Over-and-over-again during his adult life he has dumped girlfriends, convinced that they were about to leave him anyway. The agony of being abandoned by a woman is something his delicate psyche just can’t cope with, and so he won’t risk it. He even dumped Julia Roberts! This self-loathing is the key to understanding Perry’s addictive personality: he just doesn’t love himself enough.

    This is a superb memoir. It’s brutally honest and very insightful. Worryingly, Perry’s voice on the audiobook is that of an old, weary man. The actor sounds like someone in his seventies rather than a person of just 53. And recent pictures of Perry are shocking: he looks nothing like the beautiful young screen performer who was a heartthrob to millions of girls in the Nineties and the early part of this century. The drugs and alcohol have taken a devastating long-term toll on his health.

    But at least he’s still alive.

  3. 06

    by Katy Burgess

    So glad I read this it is so different from tired autobiographies that are basically just a list of accomplishments or an excuse to whinge, this is raw, emotional, witty, funny, insightful and sheds a much needed light on the horror that is living with addiction and the powerful joy of overcoming it. I wish Matthew Perry had had longer to enjoy his sobriety.

  4. 06

    by Amazon Customer

    A very honest, open and humorous read. I take my hat off to him for writing this, warts and all, addiction is terribly complex for each person suffering, albeit, appears simplistic to non-sufferers, this book debunks that and through his own story demonstrates how tough life is for an addict. I’ve known addicts, especially substances users and have seen first hand the pain and suffering they go through, on and off the wagon, no care for their life in general. I think it’s a book that could definitely be useful for other addicts and supporters of them. Although, I’ve not managed to quite finish it yet due to the world losing this very funny, warm and complex man. RIEP Matty

  5. 06

    by Kim H

    I started reading this book whilst in a reading slump because this coincided with the Actor’s way too early death. And unfortunately, it didn’t help me get out of my slump. I put it to the side and came back to it when I was out of my slump as reading slump or not, it was definitely boring in the beginning.

    As someone who works in addiction, this side of Matthew’s life, whilst sad, was really interesting to me. I hear about people’s drug and alcohol issues most days but never the intimate details and never explained in this much depth. I do wish the book hadn’t been so repetitive though, especially as it’s only 250 pages.

    Unfortunately, I think this book needed a lot more editing and as I only bought it recently, I was very surprised to see the Keanu Reeves references were still there. However, now that I’ve finished it, I feel as if I know Matthew now, whereas before I only really knew Chandler. And this book reminded me that I saw Matthew live in The End Of Longing! (I loved that play so much.)

    Most reviews I’ve seen don’t give a star rating to autobiographies which I understand but my rating isn’t based on Matthew’s life, it’s just based on a book which could have been so much more.

    The saddest part though was the end. I already thought he knew he didn’t have long left and after reading that, I really think this is the case. It read like his last goodbye.

  6. 06

    by Amazon Customer

    I loved Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing so I’d probably have liked this anyway , but in addition to getting a real insight into what a warm , funny , insightful person he was , this was a real eye opener to me as to the nature of addiction . I’m guilty like many I suspect , of thinking ‘why on earth would you even start ? ‘ but this no holds barred account of every turn on the road has definitively convinced me of the reality of the fact that this is an illness. Anyone who has ever had even just one drink or taken one puff of a cigarette or spliff really has no idea what Pandora’s box may have been opened in their own body . Scary really . There but for the Grace of God go I etc ……

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Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing: 'Funny, fascinating and compelling' The Times

£11.90£23.80 (-50%)

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