‘Everything I know about love’ is hands down my new comfort book. Admittedly I’m pretty late to this discovery.
The 2018 Sunday times bestseller is a memoir of British journalist Dolly Alderton’s humorous and heartfelt tales of her life. From disastrous dates, never-ending nights out and brutal breakups, Alderton recalls the stories and lessons (as well as best hangover recipes) to provide a book full of wit, excitement and occasional sadness.
Much like a conversation with an older sister or a close friend, Alderton’s relaxed and unfiltered style of writing made me feel like I was watching her life unfold. Centred around Alderton’s changing perspectives of love as recounted from her teenage years and her 20s, dynamics in the naivety and maturity of Alderton’s voice develop throughout. From the extravagant and outlandish stories in her early dating life that often made me smirk and smile, to the more mature and emotional conversations surrounding death and therapy. This book provides the perfect combination of sincerity and satire.
One of the main, underpinning focuses of the book is the changing friendship between Dolly and her childhood best friend Farly. She beautifully communicates how the inevitable evolution of our own personality and character, as well as changes in circumstances will impact our relationship with others. As Farly’s stable romantic life with her boyfriend grows, and Dolly’s sometimes unhealthy reckless behaviour and dependence on alcohol becomes stronger, we are only left feeling sympathetic and empathetic to how friendships and relationships can so easily come under strain.
Beginning with stories from her early teenage years in an all-girls school and her time at Exeter Uni it would be easy to dismiss this book as one that relates only to privileged, middle class, white girls. Although this may be the case in some sense (and the more I sit here thinking about it, it probably is), I think the common understanding of themes such as friendship, self-esteem, death and mental health that weave throughout the memoir provide a valuable opportunity to not necessarily find Alderton’s experiences relatable, but to instead reflect on our own. I therefore wouldn’t be surprised, if like me, after reading the book (or watching the tv series), you’ve found yourself thinking about the importance of your own friendships and at times wishing to be more carefree and confident.
This now brings me to the TV series. After reading the book over the summer I couldn’t wait to watch the BBC series it had been adapted into, and therefore made sure I binged watched it at the start of uni. The series focuses on Dolly (now called Maggie) in her 20s and her time at her first house share in Camden with her 3 other housemates: the more serious and mature Birdy (previously Farly in the book), the reckless romantic and NQT Nell, and Amara, a girl stuck in her seemingly boring corporate job whose dreams of becoming a dancer are often more consuming.
Something I find much more appealing about the series than the book is the explicit hint of how selfish and ignorant Maggie and other privileged white girls (myself included) can be regarding issues of racism and opportunity. At points in the series we see how Amara gets fed up with Maggie’s lack of awareness, including how the fetishisation of Amara as a black woman on dating apps and discrimination within her dancing career is undoubtedly racism, yet which seemingly doesn’t cross Maggie’s mind. In this aspect, I really got a sense of how self-centred her character can be.
Possibly my favourite component of the series however was the soundtrack. I was constantly pausing and googling what the song was that had just played in the background, and was later listening to the series playlist on Spotify on repeat, with the classic 1960s and 2000s sound of The Velvet Underground and Razorlight becoming my gateway to feeling confident and mysterious.
After my brief blurt of thoughts regarding Dolly Alderton’s book and TV series of ‘Everything I know about love’, I hope I haven’t put you off, and instead recommend that you read, watch, reread and re-watch one of my current favourites.