Today’s post is just going to be absolutely gushing about how much I adored Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love. Published in 2018, this memoir covers everything from growing up in the suburbs to parties, dating, friendship, and growing older.
When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.
To be quite honest, I actually didn’t think I was going to like this book when I first started reading it. I was taken aback by the overwhelming amount careless drinking, how all Dolly seemed to care about when she was younger was partying with people she barely knew. Which is fine, if that’s what you’re into–I just wasn’t really looking forward to reading an entire book about it.
And then Dolly grew up, as we all do. And that’s when I started to really love this book.
I immediately regretted judging this book–and perhaps even Dolly herself–so harshly at the beginning. One of the major turning points for me was her chapter on her eating disorder. Even though she never directly calls it an eating disorder–which did bother me a bit–the way she discusses it is so on point (I’m speaking as someone who has personally experienced this firsthand as well). She walks you through all the stages: that initial spiral down, convincing yourself that you’re fine, the worried comments from friends and family, and eventually seeking help and working through it to get better. I admire Dolly so much for being brave enough to talk about this experience so openly. It’s not an easy thing to do, and she does it in a thoughtful, nuanced way.
And that’s what made me love this book: Dolly’s brutal, unflinching honesty. She didn’t just talk about the highlights of her life; rather, she talks about the hard nights and the blurry mornings and everything in between. One of the parts that really stood out to me in this regard was when she talks about her best friend getting engaged and how she was afraid their friendship would never be the same:
“I would like to pause the story a moment to talk about ‘nothing will change’. I’ve heard it said to me repeatedly by women I love during my twenties when they move in with boyfriends, get engaged, move abroad, get married, get pregnant. ‘Nothing will change.’ It drives me bananas. Everything will change. Everything will change. The love we have for each other stays the same, but the format, the tone, the regularity and the intimacy of our friendship will change for ever.”
This part got me right in the heart. I think this shift in friendship is something a lot of us fear but never really talk about. It’s like Dolly reaches right into that pocket of our lives and our minds and says, “Well, I guess it’s time to finally admit this is a feeling we feel.” And when I read this book over the summer, that’s exactly what I needed to hear.
People, I cried so much while reading this book. I cry all the time while watching movies, but it takes a special book that hits a special chord in me to actually make me cry. And at the end, I was legit ugly crying. I was sitting in bed and holding this book and letting it all out, just like I suspect Dolly would want us to do. Dolly has a knack for making the reader really feel something, which I think is the sign of a really brilliant writer.
The ending of this book is just beautiful. Dolly lists everything she knows about love at age thirty, and it was everything I needed to hear in that moment: that no matter what, you are loved and you are enough. And that’s what makes this book such a fantastic feminist read: because in the end, Dolly is saying that whatever way you want to live your life, whatever way you want to be a woman (or not be a woman!) is completely, perfectly fine. There’s no right way to live a life–just your way.
One of my best friends recommended this book to me, and now I’m passing on that recommendation to all of you. If you’re in a funk or need some cheering up or are just looking for a good emotional read, definitely check out Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. And let me know what you think of it!!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Feminist Friday discussion! As always, you can check out my other Feminist Fridays posts here. I’d love to hear of any topics you would like me to discuss in future posts!
Have you read Everything I Know About Love? Have any memoirs written by women that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!