Saturday 23 January 2021

Ghosts - Dolly Alderton


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.

What did I think?

I was looking for something light to read and decided on Ghosts by Dolly Alderton, expecting a light-hearted and funny dating style rom-com.  Whilst it is partly a rom-com, it's certainly much more than that and I found it surprisingly more poignant and heart-wrenching than funny.

Apart from her day job of food writer, Nina Dean has two main parts to play in Ghosts: girlfriend and daughter.  As (potential) girlfriend we see her negotiating through the tricky minefield of online dating then choosing a man who seems too good to be true.  As if new relationships weren't difficult enough, Nina's dad is showing the first signs of dementia and her mum is going through some kind of identity crisis.  Nina certainly has a lot of balls to juggle.

There are so many things that I liked about Nina; her size 11 size (having been an annoying size 13 in my past), her middle name of George (after George Michael) and her friendship with her ex-boyfriend Joe to name but a few.  I really liked how The Edge of Heaven by Wham was woven into the story and resulted in one or two surprises for the characters.  I defy anyone not to sing the opening 'Yeah yeah yeah' to themselves while reading Ghosts but I had absolutely no idea what the song was about until now.  Yikes!  

Nina's burgeoning relationship with Max made me want to reach into the book and tell Nina to run away very fast.  There must be something in our DNA that makes a woman go all weak in the knees when a man says he wants to marry her, even on a first date.  There would be scorch marks on the floor and a puff of smoke in his place if a woman said that to a man when they first met.  It's all part of the dating game, a game for two players but only one of them knows the rules.

Although it wasn't the laugh out loud book I was expecting, Ghosts is a very enjoyable read; it's honest, heartfelt and surprisingly poignant.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an ebook via NetGalley for the purpose of review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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