Book Review: Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Ghosts

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. 

 

Book Review: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

One of the prompts in my 2018 Reading Challenge is a book with an ugly cover.  I therefore contemplated reading Fire and Fury due to its very ugly cover:

fire and fury

but I just couldn’t bring myself to!  I kept seeing really positive reviews of Dolly Alderton’s memoir, and decided that was much more appealing than reading about the orange one – so I went for that instead, as there is scribbling on the cover so that can count as ugly?!

Everything I Know About

Here is the Amazon blurb:

“When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Timesdating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.”

And what other authors have said about it:

‘A wonderful writer, who will surely inspire a generation the way that Caitlin Moran did before her’ Julie Burchill

‘If Nora Ephron is the cool aunt you wish you’d had, Dolly Alderton is your favourite cousin. I loved it and I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t; it’s a genuine delight’ Kristen Roupenian, author of Cat Person

I’d already read Dolly’s article in the Sunday Times Style magazine called ’30 Things I’ve Learned About Life At 30′ – which I loved – so I guessed I was going to enjoy her book.

Now, I think I am older than target market (this is becoming a recurring theme in my book reviews.  Do I just need to accept I’m mid 40s?!?) as Dolly was 28 when she wrote it but I really enjoyed it. I also felt that Nina – in the last book I read – should really read it!

It’s sort of autobiographical – but jumps around rather than being strictly chronological.  There are also some hilarious random chapters which are (I am assuming fake) emails about weddings / baby showers / hen do invites – and texts to people – and these were all laugh out loud funny.  Totally should have written LOL to be down with the kids…….

Dolly’s reliance on booze / hard drugs / casual sex is also looked at in detail – so definitely don’t read if that’s not your bag.

What I LOVED was Dolly’s relationship with her friendship group – and especially her best friend Farly.  The friendship changed over the years – but was the one constant throughout the book.  They definitely went through their ups and downs together too – and clearly love each other completely and utterly as friends.

I read it really quickly as I was enjoying it – and Dolly’s writing style is great.  I feel like I want to buy a copy for all of my 20 something cousins!  I also really want a follow up in about 5 years to find out how everyone is doing…….