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September Book Club: Ghosts

Welcome to our September choice for the Well Read Company Book Club!

I finished Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts this week whilst on holiday in surprisingly sunny Devon, and haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. Nina Dean, the sarcastic and vulnerable heroine of Alderton’s novel, grapples with issues that at first glance seem well-trodden: romance in the online world, ageing parents, the intricacies of female friendships, and the steady ticking of her biological clock. 

But the novel pushes past the comfort of these familiar tropes to marry humour with a nostalgic grief for the end of adolescence. And, more pressingly, the end of a world in which relationships and emotions were played out entirely in real life, rather than on our phone screens. Nina’s quick one-liners: “I hated lateness. Being late is a selfish habit adopted by boring people in search of a personality quirk who can't be bothered to take up an instrument” elevated her into being one of my favourite female heroines of late. She is adamant of not needing a relationship, of not being defined by her body or others reactions to it. Yet she is also quietly aware of all the times she isn’t able to hold herself to these standards, and that she isn’t any less of a modern woman as a result. 

Here is where the true heart of the novel lies: the sadness that is tied up with reaching maturity and watching friends drift away into family life. Although Nina gets her heart broken in the novel (multiple times), it’s the slow loss of her closest friends and the decline of her father due to dementia that is the real tragedy of the novel. Turning such mundane 30-something-living-in-London experiences into an insightful reflection of loneliness and female solitary is the novel’s true strength.

Alderton is already somewhat of a millennial hero, famous for her bestselling memoir Everything I Know About Love, her co-hosting of The High-Low podcast, and her funny, relatable columns in a host of newspapers. Her memoir details the alcohol-infused heydays of her 20s, when partying and quick thrills were her main focus.The life lessons she’s obviously learnt from this time in her life are present in Ghosts too. In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph she mused that the desire to write more memoirs was gone: “The place where I feel most enjoyment and fulfilment is in fiction now”. I for one am very excited to see what she creates next!

We loved reading this novel this month and are so excited to discuss it with you - please tell us what you thought via social media or by commenting on this post!



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