I loved Dolly Alderton’s sort of autobiographical best seller “Everything I Know About Love” and so when I saw she had her first novel coming out I wondered if I could get an ARC from NetGalley – and I could – hoorah!
Here’s the blurb:
“Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.
A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.
Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, and how we live now.”
I really enjoyed this book!
The central character is Nina, who I liked (despite being significantly older than her and with very different life experiences). The book looks at her romantic entanglements – but also her relationships with others, her friends, parents, neighbours – and how they all intertwine.
I almost feel like the relationships were dealt with in pairs:
Nina’s Mum (Nancy / Mandy) and her Dad: it was clear Nina was a Daddy’s girl, and her relationship with her Mum is more ‘complicated’ and I liked how this progressed during the book. Nina’s Dad’s dementia gets worse and worse – but was well written and true to life experiences of this horrible disease.
Katherine and Lola: these are Nina’s friends – but from different life stages. Katherine is a smug married, whilst Lola is on a permanent quest for love. Their personal circumstances bring different strains to their relationships with Nina – and I think were written really well.
Max and Joe: Max is Nina’s new boyfriend and the ‘leading man’ of the book – whilst Joe is her long term ex who is still a best friend. The first interaction between them was cringingly well written! And Nina on Joe’s new fiancée’s hen weekend was also painfully good.
Her upstairs and downstairs neighbours: Lovely, slightly deaf older lady up above; grumpy, aggressive, scary Italian man down below.
Whilst the ‘Ghosts’ of the title could be the current vocab of romantic partners who suddenly cut you off with no explanation, it’s clear Nina’s Dad is also encountering his own ghosts as he suffers with dementia.
Nina is quick witted, smart, sassy and independent and a great leading lady – and the book was a rollercoaster of emotions – sometimes I was laughing out loud, other times having a little weep.
A huge thank you to Netgalley and Penguin for my advance review copy. Ghosts is out in October 2020 and can be pre ordered now.