Quick: Combining recipes, anecdotes, advice and memories, Dolly Alderton’s memoir feels like a sisterhood version of ‘The Bible’ from American Pie – if slightly more mature. It’s the kind of book that speaks so eloquently about friendship, about being in your twenties, about being a woman, that it has to be shared. I have already promised my copy to several close friends.
Although the romcom-y title (and the fact that the author used to be a dating columnist) might be initially off-putting, it’s these expectations that Alderton plays off, highlighting our tendency to assume love symbolises romance, sex, a partner, forgetting the many other great loves of our lives. And yet it isn’t as wanky as that sounds.
Each bad date, or bad party, or bad night out is told in a matter-of-fact way that lets the comedy speak for itself. One particularly hilarious story, of mistaking Oxford Circus for Oxford the city, made me genuinely laugh aloud on the night tube (not by a long stretch the weirdest thing someone was doing on that carriage). Equally, the most moving passages are told with a beautiful simplicity. Alderton is great a taking a step back, and allowing the conversations, the events, the people to speak for themselves. What is also impressive is her ability to judge (others, and her own younger self) and yet do so with kindness and understanding – whilst not being one of those annoying people who far too saintly for their own good. Let’s be honest, everyone likes a good moan now and then.
What makes this memoir special is the fierce warmth of Alderton’s descriptions of her closest friends; in particular, her best friend, Farley. It helped that Farley sounds like my clone (short, brunette, fears sharks and swimming in open water); anyone, however, will find this relationship so winning, so powerfully, lovingly, uncompromisingly described, that one cannot but warm to the person describing it.
Although some of more obvious jokes are repeated one too many times (see ‘omg weddings are expensive and the people organising them are crazy’), most of the less serious chapters – the recipes, the parody letters – add a nice touch of lightness. The best bits are the lists of “Everything I Knew About Love At…17/21/25/28”; Alderton hits the nail on the head every time. (I am currently on the 25 year old stage).
Alderton has produced a funny, touching, self-aware memoir that is both incredibly personal, and intensely relatable. If we can’t have an actual female ‘Bible’ (publishers hmu), this is just as good.
Quicker: Are you, or do you know, a woman in her twenties? Do you have a best friend, or a great group of friends? Do you stress about dating and/or feeling alone? Have you had a quarter-life-crisis? If the answer to any (or all) of these is yes, you should read Everything I Know About Love.
Quickest: Like Caitlin Moran? You’ll like this.
Buy it on Amazon here.