Thursday, 30 July 2020

Book #60

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer with a loyal online following, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting, and by the most beguiling of men. Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she's starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother's desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her.

Ghosts deals with many issues I’ve faced in previous years - tackling the impossible new culture of dating apps, struggling with friendships as life priorities take over, being insanely behind in the love marriage house buying timeline, and ultimately feeling the clock ticking with no real idea of what was bloody wrong with me.

Alderton shows us that ghosting can take place in many forms, whether it’s the gorgeous guy you’ve been on a few dates with who suddenly vanishes from the face of the earth, or friends who feel your single life has nothing in common with their baby-juggling, home renovation planning existence. We even see the most heartbreaking type of ghosting - a dad with dementia, whose great mind is slowly disassembling itself.

We live with our protagonist, Nina, through all of this, and see how she navigates it all. She’s a truly wonderful character, strong and independent, yet desperately lonely and lost. She’s a woman you’d see on the street and feel jealous of her togetherness, but truly there is much more going on under the surface. 

The careful handling of the dementia storyline was wonderful. Alderton dealt with this masterfully, with a subtlety that still reinforced the impact of the disease. There were moments of heartbreak alongside moments of hope, and it truly was very well done.

This was so relatable, and funny too. Nina’s descriptions of the types of men you see on these apps, the superiority of the married with kids friends, the totalitarian behaviour of the bridesmaid in charge of the hen do; all of this resonated with me as situations I’ve found myself attempting to escape in the past, and it’s such a comfort to know I wasn’t, and never was, the only one.