THE PLOT: Ghosts by Dolly Alderton is a novel about a 32-year-old woman on the London dating scene. Food-writer Nina split up from her long-term boyfriend two years ago and is ready to get back out there. She downloads a dating app and instantly has a connection with the first man she matches. But is he too good to be true? And is obsessing over him just a distraction from worrying about her beloved dad, who is slowly slipping away due to dementia?
RATING: This witty novel is a hilarious yet poignant take on dating in your thirties. I read this book in two mammoth stints because I didn’t want to put it down. For sheer relatability, I absolutely loved the storylines. However, the main character alienated me and the voice was a bit distant. I’m left with this overwhelming feeling that I wanted more. Another storyline, another character, another major plot point – just something to give it an extra punch. So, with this heady mix of enjoyment and disappointment, I want to give this book three stars and three quarters. Not quite enough to make my four-star list but still a good romp.
GOOD BITS: I’ll admit upfront that I’m only a few months into my thirties. However, I am confident that this book has encapsulated a key theme of this decade. While some friends frantically scroll through dating apps, worried about the ever-pressing “biological clock”, others have disappeared into marriages and babies. And that’s what’s brilliant about this book. It feels real. I know these characters because they are my friends. I have been, and probably will be, every one of them at different stages of my life. It’s just extremely observant and funny and the friendships (I’m a HUGE Lola fan) are reminiscent of Dolly’s best-selling memoir.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: This book is written in the first-person past-tense, as if the main character is sitting in a therapists’ chair and telling her life story. I found this extremely off-putting. She over-explains her backstory in the first chapter and often speaks with a cryptic hindsight, as if she’s voicing over a documentary about herself. I understand the stylistic choice as it’s reminiscent of ‘Everything I Know About Love’, but I don’t think it fits a novel. It takes the reader out of the action and makes the protagonist seem distant. It also made her unlikeable as she comes across as sanctimonious and pretentious by sermonising on her own life, with snarky remarks about the other characters.
OVERALL: This book is one for fans of contemporary women’s fiction. It reminded me a little of ‘So Lucky’ by Dawn O’Porter, and I imagine it would appeal to fans of Beth O’Leary and Laura Kay (authors I haven’t read yet but are on my TBR). But it’s not just your standard romance – it’s really about growing up and changing relationships with your friends and family. And, it’s well worth picking up if any of the themes appeal to you.