Today, I am back with a new book review of a brilliant debut novel that is published today. It’s the debut novel from Dolly Alderton, Ghosts.
I’ve been taking a break from posting on social media/reviewing – not intentionally but I just think I needed the break but I have been reading but taking my time, enjoying every second, every word, every last page of the books I have been reading – including Ghosts by Dolly Alderton. But first, what is it about? Here is the synopsis:
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.
Dolly Alderton is one of my favourite writers – I love her journalism, her columns every Sunday and I can’t stop thinking about her brilliant memoir Everything I Know About Love which got me straight away and never left me go. And I was excited to see her go into fiction for the first time with her debut novel. I was kindly gifted a copy by the publisher and couldn’t wait any longer to get started.
And really? It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Dolly is a brilliant writer and has a great voice in her writing and it blends so well into the world of fiction. It is dry, witty, laugh-out laughing but it will also stop you in your tracks, take stock and make you feel every emotion under the sun. There’s a lot to discuss with this book – from friendship, modern dating, identity, family, memory, food, and so much more. But these issues doesn’t feel heavy-handed. Just like in her journalism, she goes deep into the subject areas and expand them and analyse them – with humour and warmth.
I loved the characters in the novel – they all felt “real” – too real at times. I just loved every single character – even the ones that make you angry and want to get inside the book and slap them… I especially loved Nina – straight away I saw her, I knew her. She’s a great protagonist and she’s a character that you want to root for – even if she does some silly things. I loved how she explored dating in modern society – there’s been a lot of these novels but for me, this felt more real, felt more believable with characters you actually want to carry on reading and full of beautiful, witty, brilliant prose.
As well as the dating aspect of the novel, I really fell in love with the relationship between her and her father who has dementia. This, for me, is the heart of the novel. It moved me and I just wanted to carry on reading about Nina and her father. I thought it was sensitively done and I loved how she shows different perspectives of dementia from her father, Nina herself, carers and also Nina’s mother who is struggling. Hence the title “ghosts” – not only the men who ghost her on the dating website, but watching her father fade in front of her eyes, the ghost of her past as she continues to grow up and leave her past behind. I think there’s also a great exploration of friendship and how they change and mature over age and its significance changing too over time.
There is so much to take away from this novel but I completely loved it. It’s a brilliant book on modern life, modern dating, modern friendships, modern families and more. Dolly Alderton’s brilliant writing is on showcase here and she has a brilliant witty, observant, hilarious, sharp voice in fiction and I hope that there is more novels in the future from her as she is a great chronicler of a generation. I am sure this is going to be a massive hit and it deserves to be. I can’t wait to see this adapted for the screen hopefully one day, too.
One of my favourite novels this year and one that I won’t forget in a hurry and already making my partner read it too. It’s that sort of book – once you finish it, you’re making everyone else around you read its brilliance.
A big thank you to Hannah at Penguin for my copy! Ghosts is published today in hardback and also available in e-book and audiobook, too! I might give the audiobook a go…
Have you read Ghosts? Are you planning too? Is it on your TBR? Are you a fan of Dolly’s writing? Let me know in the comments!