BY DOLLY ALDERTON
Dolly Alderton fans, who love her newspaper column and the phenomenally successful podcast ‘The High Low’ with Pandora Sykes, will be super excited to read her debut novel ‘Ghosts’. Following ‘Everything I Know About Love’, an unflinching account of surviving her 20s, Alderton brings us a millennial rom-com, which comes with this writer’s acerbic wit and humour. With Alderton’s award winning reputation as a journalist, this book makes for the perfect ‘escape’ read and chance to try something different!
‘Ghosts’ is Nina’s story. Thirtysomething, Nina is a successful food writer and author, a first time homeowner in a new neighbourhood who decides to brave a dating app to combat her singleton life. Much of the flirting is played out on the phone but remarkably she falls in love and everything feels like it is going to plan. But following a romantic declaration of love, Nina is unexpectedly ‘ghosted’ and beginning to feel abandoned by her friends and ex-boyfriends who are moving on and moving out. Whilst not a deliberate homage to Bridget Jones, it definitely has plenty of nods. Just like Bridget Jones there is trouble at home as her family are entering an unsettling phase. Nina discovers her mother in a second bloom of life, changing her name from Nancy to Mandy, living a busy schedule of ‘Pilatus’ and organising her literary salons ‘Reading Between The Wines’ where her friends gather to talk about ideas, not books. Sadly there is little solace with her loving father who is ‘confused, angry and vulnerable’ with the early onset of dementia.
Like her father, Nina clings onto her ‘ghosts’ of the past including the grandmother’s home that leads her back to her roots and her much loved childhood foodstuffs that become positive triggers for her father and the inspiration for her next book. And she looks in trepidation at the ‘ghosts’ of the future as played out by her friends.
Just like Bridget Jones, 'Ghosts' is a bittersweet novel filled with funny and tender observations that will resonate with the reader. The Den was torn between enjoying the farcical vignettes and scenes that weave together Nina’s story and finding it ultimately a predictable predicament in which happiness can only be achieved in a relationship. We loved her friendship with her best friend Lola and the ‘The Schedenfreude Shelf’ a collection of hilarious sleights of life and tales of misfortune. Lots to enjoy in this read even if it's just a moment in time!