Sometimes we read books about faraway lands and unfathomable experiences in order to escape this ordinary reality we’re forced to face on a daily basis.
However, other times we just need to pick up a book we can undoubtedly relate to. They help us feel seen, and they justify our mundane, yet legitimate struggles in life. They speak to us in a way no other fantastical read can.
That was definitely the case in Dolly Alderton’s debut novel, Ghosts. The story follows 31-year-old food writer, Nina Dean. After signing up for a dating app, Nina is soon charmed by dashing and delectable Max, who tells her on their first date that he’s going to marry her.
Meanwhile Nina’s mother is caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and her beloved dad is slowly fading away from dementia right before her eyes. Not to mention, nearly all of Nina’s friends are settling down, having kids and moving to the suburbs, leaving her behind.
Dolly Alderton's debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, while telling a deeply reflective portrayal of how we live now.
As expected, Ghosts was perfectly written and Dolly’s insights about how friendships evolve over time, what it’s really like to date in your late 20’s/30’s, and the heartbreaking reality of watching your parents deteriorate were all a little too familiar.
In many ways Nina’s life is filled with ghosts — from past boyfriends who just drifted away without a backwards glance, to friends who have left her behind to start their new lives, and finally the ghost of her father who she slowly loses to forgotten memories.
All of these ghosts are ones I myself have become all too familiar with as well. Everyone goes through life losing those they love, yet trying desperately to cling on to them, for reasons they most-likely don’t even understand.
Dating nowadays is so much harder than it needs to be. While reading about Nina’s love-life was a tad painful in parts, I also found it quite cathartic and liberating — especially when she stood up for herself and acknowledged her worth.
Dolly has created a story which I know will resonate with so many people. And yes, while the story is achingly sad in parts, it's equally full of hope and dreams. I particularly love Nina’s belief that no human can be deleted, no matter how hard they try.
Dolly Alderton’s debut novel Ghosts is published by Fig Tree, and is available to purchase here.