I am usually unsure about non-fiction books as I would rather get lost in a story than hear about someone else’s. However, Dolly Alderton’s combination of anecdotes, recipes, lists, and satirical emails made me laugh, cry and cringe on her behalf.
Although the title sets you up to think it’s all about love, Dolly Alderton is quick to acknowledge that she doesn’t know all that much about it. She talks about the uncertainty of adulthood, making her stories very relatable and heart-warming. It’s more about her friendships and her experiences of when she felt alone.
“Nearly everything I know about love, I’ve learnt from my long-term friendships with women.”
The people she talks about in her memoir are a highlight of the story. The dodgy landlord, her friendship group, the boys she loved, and her bizarre Tinder dates all bring a sense of familiarity to her stories and remind us of people we know ourselves. A lot of the stories are a version of ones that we have ourselves, but the way Dolly Alderton tells them are very gripping. Even though she talks about feeling left behind while her friends easily grow into the expectations of their twenties, her nostalgia and wisdom on growing up, show her own experience of adulthood.
It reads like a conversation between friends rather than as if she is just talking to someone who happened to pick up her book. Sometimes the inclusion of recipes felt a little like padding rather than being relevant to the plot, but, given that Dolly Alderton is a massive foodie, they do reflect her personality. I didn’t mind so much the recipes when they weren’t as relevant because the ‘Hangover Mac & Cheese’ is one I will have to try, and they reflect her novel as a story of her own.
I didn’t know who Dolly Alderton was before reading her memoir, but I don’t think that you need to, to relate to her story. She talks about her privileged lifestyle in boarding school and then London, but it didn’t come across as bragging. Her background may be hard to relate to for some, but the fundamentals of the book of friendship and growing up are not.
I now plan to read her other book Ghosts soon and listen to her podcast The High Low with Pandora Sykes.
It’s a very readable book that I will always recommend.