‘Everything I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton

By Georgia Bisbas | Content Writer

Alderton’s 2018 memoir was met with critical acclaim, it was a Sunday Times Best Seller and won a National Book Award for Autobiography of the Year, not to mention the unilateral praise from her adoring fan base of millennial women who relate to and admire her writing. I am one such card-carrying member, and let me tell you, we all want to share a bottle of wine with Dolly, (we also all assume a first name familiarity.)

Everything I Know About Love is written chronologically, from the first awkward lessons of teenage crushes and their adjunct disappointments, to what she knew about love at 28. It follows a catalogue of disastrous dates in her twenties, and there is also real heartache and loss in its various guises. Alderton is comforted throughout by the love and support of her female friends, they heartbeat of the book. The tone of her writing in turn comforts the reader in a way that is never condescending or holier than thou, and as she gets older the funny anecdotes and advice distil into reassuring guidance that can only come from having experienced again and again the mistakes we make growing up. There is an equal dose of comforting sarcasm as she navigates the mile stones of one’s twenties.

Alongside the retrospective narrative, Alderton apes Nora Ephron and includes recipes, what could be more comforting than hangover Mac and cheese! Alderton anticipates what simultaneously might soothe the stomach and the soul.

I have returned to chapters of this book for insight and perspective, and her signature self-deprecating tone puts me right at ease. In the hazy confusion of heartache or falling out with friends, returning her optimism that good friendships will survive regardless of setbacks is a comforting balm. I came back to the book recently to send my favourite quotations to friends in their low moments, friendships that we are all trying to maintain at a distance in the trying times of lockdown. Even the cynics amongst cannot help but be moved by displays of genuine love, in all its myriad forms: they are surely a universal comfort. As she gets older Aldertons’s ‘what I knew about love’ evolves, she sheds negativity, and consolidates what really matters, kindness to oneself, integrity and the fundamental importance of cherishing the loves in our lives. ’You can do long term love’ her best friend says to her, ‘you’ve done it better than anyone I know, I’m talking about you and me.’ As a loyal reader I dovetail on the comfort she finds, walking alone on an Orkney beach, that the ‘stories and sentences twisting round my mind are enough. I will never run out.’ There is a reassurance in the infinite self we can get to know, explore, and love. 

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