Ghosts by Dolly Alderton – book review

Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts is a relatable read about romance and dating in a digital era whilst navigating your 30s. As the title suggests, its centered around dating apps and the cruel notion of ‘ghosting’.

For those of you who don’t know what ghosting is, it’s defined as: “The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

Dolly Alderton is an author, journalist and podcast host. She wrote the Sunday Times best-selling memoir Everything I Know About Love (it’s on my read list), and is the co-host and co-creator of The High Low Podcast. She formerly had her own dating column in The Sunday Times, and is known for being a relatable personality and unputdownable writing style. Having spent her 20s dating, and writing about dating, it built strong foundations for the storyline of Ghosts.

The Blurb reads: “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.”

Ghosts is a modern and relatable rom-com with addictive prose and mature wit. Some easy-to-read chick-lit’s can feel immature, but Dolly has nailed her audience of women in their 20s and 30s.

Protagonist Nina George Martin was named after George Michael, after Wham’s Edge of Heaven was number one the day she was born. A food writer and journalist, she wakes up on her 32nd birthday and plays it as loud as she can. She finds herself single in her 30s, despite being good friends with her ex – who is getting married. All her friends are parents, pregnant or ready to wed, if they’re not already, and she finds herself desperate to find love and settle down.

After countless swipes right and swipes left, she lands a date with Max and all seems peachy – he tells her on the first, intense date he’d love to marry her, and they spend the summer months loved up. Until one day, he’s gone. Vanished off the face of the earth. Nina finds herself ghosted.

Meanwhile, her friendship circle is fading, as is her dear dad’s memory as a result of Alzheimer’s – and her seemingly high maintenance, mildly narcissistic mother has decided to rebrand herself. There’s a slightly odd tangent storyline with one of her neighbours where she thinks he’s a murder, which is just what you need when you’re on the verge of a quarter-life crisis. They say it doesn’t rain, it pours – and Nina’s 32nd year of life seems to be a storm of specters.

I never really did dating apps before I met Jake, so I would imagine my reading experience slightly different to someone who was single and using apps like Bumble and Hinge – but it still found that it struck an emotional cord. The idea of anonymity and dating being a game is a cruel world which Dolly conveys so eloquently.

Ghosts featured slightly longer chapters in its 300-or-so pages that I typically like, but I still found myself getting to the end of each chapter saying ‘just one more and then I’ll put it down’. I read it in two days, in two sittings – it made for effortless reading filled with the chaos and drama modern dating.

Ghosts was a light and easy rom-com read that explored the trials and tribulations of navigating your 30s in the modern world of dating apps and the internet. It felt relatable and honest, was well written and a thoroughly enjoyable reminder to curate your own happiness.

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