Britney Spears releases 'The Woman in Me': What to know about the buzzy memoir

Spears talks her past relationships, her family, her conservatorship and more.

Britney Spears releases 'The Woman in Me': What to know about the buzzy memoir
Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
October 24, 2023, 1:07 PM

Britney Spears' memoir, "The Woman in Me," is out now.

Prior to its release, the highly anticipated book reached No. 1 on Amazon's Best Sellers list. Several excerpts from the book were released, and Spears also shared a few glimpses online of what fans could expect.

The singer previously shared a statement Oct. 20 explaining her motive for releasing the long-awaited memoir, describing how she's found "closure" through the book.

"My book's purpose was not to offend anyone by any means !!! That was me then ... that is in the past !!!" she wrote on Instagram.

She went on to say that she'd already seen headlines at the time surrounding the book with which she'd taken issue.

"That's exactly why I quit the business 4 years ago !!!" she wrote. "Most of the book is from 20 years ago ... I have moved on and it's a beautiful clean slate from here !!! I am here to establish it that way for the rest of my entire life !!!"

She continued, "This is actually a book I didn't know needed to be written .. although some might be offended, it has given me closure on all things for a better future !!!"

Spears said in her Instagram post that she hoped the memoir "can enlighten people who feel particularly alone in most cases or hurt or misunderstood !!!"

She added, "Again, my motive for this book was not to harp on my past experiences which is what the press is doing and it's dumb and silly !!! I have moved on since then !!!"

Learn more about the newly released memoir below.

What is Britney Spears' memoir about?

When the book's release date was announced in July, publisher Gallery Books described it on its website as "a brave and astonishingly moving story about freedom, fame, motherhood, survival, faith and hope."

"'The Woman in Me' reveals for the first time her incredible journey -- and the strength at the core of one of the greatest performers in pop music history," Gallery Books wrote, adding that it "illuminates the enduring power of music and love -- and the importance of a woman telling her own story, on her own terms, at last."

PHOTO: Britney Spears' book "The Woman In Me" will be released by Gallery Books, October 24, 2023.
Britney Spears' book "The Woman in Me" will be released by Gallery Books, October 24, 2023.
Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

A week before the release of Spears' memoir, the singer shared several excerpts of the book with People that touch on her early career as a Mouseketeer on "The Mickey Mouse Club," her life as a young pop star, her first film, and the beginning and end of her conservatorship.

"It took a long time and a lot of work for me to feel ready to tell my story," Spears writes in her memoir. "I hope it inspires people on some level and can touch hearts."

PHOTO: In this Oct. 2, 1998, file photo, Britney Spears poses during a portrait session in Los Angeles.
In this Oct. 2, 1998, file photo, Britney Spears poses during a portrait session in Los Angeles.
L. Busacca/WireImage via Getty Images, FILE

One account she shared in her book was about an abortion she said she had while in a relationship with Justin Timberlake. The former couple first started dating in the late '90s and broke up in 2002.

Spears claims in the book that when the two were dating, she became pregnant with his baby but she said he said he felt they "weren't ready." She then ended the pregnancy.

"It was a surprise, but for me, it wasn't a tragedy," she writes. "I loved Justin so much. I always expected us to have a family together one day. This would just be much earlier than I'd anticipated."

PHOTO: In this Jan. 8, 2001, file photo, Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake appear at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
In this Jan. 8, 2001, file photo, Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake appear at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage via Getty Images, FILE

"But Justin definitely wasn't happy about the pregnancy," she continues. "He said we weren't ready to have a baby in our lives, that we were way too young."

Spears writes that she eventually "agreed not to have the baby."

"I don't know if that was the right decision," she writes. "If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it. And yet Justin was so sure that he didn't want to be a father."

"To this day, it's one of the most agonizing things I have ever experienced in my life," she adds.

In her book, Spears describes her relationship with Timberlake as being "like magnets" to each other, adding that she was "so in love with him it was pathetic." That was, until she says he broke up with her via text and left her "devastated" to the point that she "could barely speak for months."

After retreating back to her family home in Kentwood, Louisiana, Spears says Timberlake came to visit her and brought a letter he'd written and framed that ended with the line "I can't breathe without you." Spears writes that she still has the framed letter under her bed, and says it makes her want to cry thinking about it to this day.

Spears says Timberlake went on to frame her as the "bad guy" in their time together, writing, "I've felt like I'm under some sort of curse."

What else does Spears discuss in her memoir?

As well as delving further into her past relationship with Timberlake, many expected the singer to shed more light on her other highly publicized past and present relationships, as well as their effects and impact on her life -- and she does.

Spears says in the audio introduction, "Reliving everything you are about to hear has been exciting, heart-wrenching and emotional, to say the least."

The singer dedicates the book to her sons, Sean Preston and Jayden, writing, "For my boys, who are the loves of my life. This book has been a labor of love and all the emotions that come with it."

According to The New York Times, which obtained a copy in advance of the memoir's release, Spears writes about double standards she felt she experienced from the media while dating Timberlake. She says she "couldn't help but notice" the difference in how she felt they were treated by the media, writing, "Everyone kept making strange comments about my breasts wanting to know whether or not I'd had plastic surgery."

It was around this time, Spears writes, that she started taking the anti-depressant Prozac to deal with the impact of public scrutiny on her eager-to-please self, saying, "The national spotlight turned my natural tendency to worry into something unbearable."

The singer also reportedly touches on the period after the end of her marriage with Kevin Federline, when her public persona was highly criticized in the media.

"With my head shaved, everyone was scared of me, even my mom," Spears writes, according to the Times. "Flailing those weeks without my children, I lost it, over and over again. I didn't even really know how to take care of myself."

She adds, "I am willing to admit that in the throes of severe postpartum depression, abandonment by my husband, the torture of being separated from my two babies, the death of my adored aunt Sandra, and the constant drumbeat of pressure from paparazzi, I'd begin to think in some ways like a child."

On the topic of mental health, Spears writes, "Unfortunately there wasn't the same conversation about mental health back then that there is now. I hope any new mothers reading this who are having a hard time will get help early ... because I now know that I was displaying just about every symptom of perinatal depression: sadness, anxiety, fatigue."

The singer also discusses in the book her father's role in her 13-year conservatorship, which ended in November 2021. She has been especially vocal about her father Jamie Spears' role in her conservatorship, as he acted as the conservator of her estate from 2008, when the conservatorship was put in place, until he stepped down from her conservatorship in September 2021.

As part of the conservatorship, he also controlled her personal affairs until 2019.

"If you're asking why I went along with it, there's one very good reason," Spears writes of the conservatorship. "I did it for my kids. Because I played by the rules, I was reunited with my boys."

PHOTO: In this April 19, 2017, file photo, Britney Spears is shown at an event in Los Angeles.
In this April 19, 2017, file photo, Britney Spears is shown at an event in Los Angeles.
Disney Channel via Getty Images, FILE

According to the Times, Spears writes that she unsuccessfully fought the conservatorship privately but says, "After being held down on a gurney [while being twice hospitalized for involuntary psychological assessments], I knew they could restrain my body any time they wanted to. And so I went along with it."

"My freedom in exchange for naps with my children -- it was a trade I was willing to make," she writes.

According to the Times, Spears also writes in her memoir, "They kept me locked up against my will for months. I couldn't go outside. I couldn't drive a car. I had to give blood weekly. I couldn't take a bath in private. I couldn't shut the door to my room."

"I know I had been acting wild, but there was nothing I'd done that justified their treating me like I was a bank robber," Spears adds. "Nothing that justified upending my entire life."

Spears also claims in the book that her father told her if she didn't attend a rehab program, he would take her to court where she would be "embarrassed" and forced by a judge to attend one.

"I felt like it was a form of blackmail and I was being gaslit," she writes. "I honestly felt they were trying to kill me."

Spears writes that the conservatorship was "created supposedly because I was incapable of doing anything at all -- feeding myself, spending my own money, being a mother, anything," and that she began to think her father "saw me as put on the earth for no other reason than to help their cash flow."

The pop star claims she recalled hearing her father say, "I call the shots," and "I'm Britney Spears now."

Jamie Spears has maintained that he acted as the conservator of his daughter for her own good. His lawyer said in a statement from 2021, "I understand that every story wants to have a villain, but people have it so wrong here. This is a story about a fiercely loyal, loving, and dedicated father who rescued his daughter from a life-threatening situation. People were harming her and they were exploiting her."

Jamie Spears' lawyer also said he "saved" his daughter's life and "worked tirelessly to defend her."

Spears also writes about how during the conservatorship, she texted her younger sister Jamie Lynn Spears to ask for help, claiming the text reply was, "Stop fighting it. There's nothing you can do about it, so stop fighting it."

"I felt like she should have taken my side," Spears writes of her sister, saying that they "should have found comfort in each other" after her conservatorship ended, adding, "Unfortunately that hasn't been the case."

She writes that she felt "really let down" by her sister's 2022 book, "Things I Should Have Said," but says that Jamie Lynn Spears "will always be my sister, and I love her and her beautiful family. I wish the absolute best for them."

"I'm working to feel more compassion than anger toward her and toward everyone who I feel has wronged me," Spears writes. "It's not easy."

The singer also lifts the veil on what she says she endured during the conservatorship -- which she describes as "abusive" and says led her to be "traumatized" and "depressed" -- for the first time since her court testimony in June 2021. ("I just want my life back," she said in that court testimony while pleading for the judge to end her conservatorship.)

She also addresses her fans, according to the Times, writing, "I don't think people knew how much the #FreeBritney movement meant to me, especially in the beginning."

Prior to the conservatorship, the singer says she endured heavy scrutiny as her fame rose in the late '90s and early 2000s through her many chart-topping releases. Spears discusses the double standards she faced during that time, along with the media attention she's faced throughout her entire life and its effects on her mental and physical health.

"I felt like I was living on the edge of a cliff," Spears shared in a teaser about her memoir. "No one knows what I really thought… until now."

What has Spears been up to recently?

Following the end of her conservatorship, Spears married Sam Asghari in June 2022 in an intimate ceremony at her home. They shared some moments from their life as a couple on social media but mostly kept their relationship private.

Two weeks after their wedding, Spears took to Instagram to update her followers about the new home she and Asghari moved into. "Life is good," she captioned in the post.

PHOTO: In this June 22, 2019, file photo, Britney Spears and Sam Asghari arrive at a permiere in Hollywood, Calif.
In this June 22, 2019, file photo, Britney Spears and Sam Asghari arrive at a permiere in Hollywood, Calif.
Steve Granitz/WireImage via Getty Images, FILE

In August 2023, Asghari filed for divorce from Spears, citing irreconcilable differences in court documents as the reason for the split.

At the time, Spears wrote on Instagram, "As everyone knows, Hesam and I are no longer together … 6 years is a long time to be with someone so, I'm a little shocked but … I'm not here to explain why because its honestly nobody's business."

In terms of music, Spears collaborated with Elton John on the 2022 single "Hold Me Closer." She also released the single "Mind Your Business" with earlier this year.

As to whether she has any plans to release more music in the near future, Spears writes in her memoir, according to the Times, "Pushing forward in my music career is not my focus at the moment."

"It's time for me not to be someone who other people want; it's time to actually find myself," she adds.

Who narrates Spears' audiobook?

Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams narrates the audiobook version of "The Woman in Me."

Spears thanked Williams in a post on X last week, writing, "Thanks Michelle."

When will "The Woman in Me" be released?

Spears' memoir is out now.

Neither Spears' family nor others mentioned in her book have responded to ABC News' requests for comment.

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