About Love by Dolly Alderton – Book Review | Books | Entertainment
She has been dubbed this generation’s Nora Ephron and her writing has been praised by the likes of novelist Marian Keyes and Sharon Horgan, Catastrophe and Motherland writer.
At first glance the book is a millennial memoir in similar vein to Laura Jane Williams’ Becoming and Daisy Buchanan’s How To Be A Grown-Up.
But Dolly, now 29, transcends the genre with a writing style that is less self-indulgent than many of her peers, allowing her to stand out in a crowded market.
The book opens during Dolly’s teenage years with amusing stories of bad parties. And it is intriguing to read her account of flirting with boys online after school because her generation was the first to do so.
But it is as Dolly reaches her 20s that the memoir hits its comic, self-deprecating stride. As a former dating columnist for a broadsheet magazine, Dolly has been on her fair share of bad dates.
She once spent months on and off talking to a man over the phone only for him to ditch her after meeting her once in person.
On another occasion she went out with a wealthy older man and out of pride insisted on paying a £300 dinner bill she couldn’t afford.
Then she recalls the time when she was unable to tackle the snow in a wobbly, cheap pair of heels so her date “flung me over his shoulder like a Persian rug”.
In a warm and conversational style she recounts the best and worst of her experiences in a laugh-out-loud, lightning quick journey through the years. And her witty descriptions of the people she meets make them leap off the page: “Hector could offset such arrogance because he had the features of a cherub: sparkly blue eyes with irises like cornflowers and an upturned nose like a boy in a 1950s soap advert.”
Dolly punctuates anecdotes with tongue-in-cheek lists of advice and recipes such as Hangover Mac And Cheese which offer a glimpse into her life at different stages.
She captures the way women speak to one another through fictionalised conversations from an email inviting her to a hen party to a dishonest Christmas round-robin letter.
Despite its light-hearted tone Everything I Know About Love also deals with more serious issues, such as when Dolly supports a friend whose younger sister died of leukaemia. And she writes candidly about her own self-esteem issues and her battle with an eating disorder in her early 20s: “If you’re thin enough, you’ll be happy with who you are and then you’ll be worthy of love.”
But in the end the thread that ties the narrative together is one of female friendship.
As the memoir draws to a close, it becomes clear that the title is about the platonic relationships which provide love and support.
Although not everyone will have been on as many dates as Dolly, this account will resonate with anyone who’s ever been young and in love or been put back together by friends after having their heart broken.