Is it worth the hype? Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Dolly Alderton is a British journalist, author, and podcaster. She is currently the Agony Aunt for the Sunday Times with her weekly ‘Dear Dolly’ column addressing the nations friendship and relationship problems. Born and raised in London, Dolly is best known for her first book and memoir Everything I Know About Love.
Her debut won a National Book Award for autobiography in 2018 and was nominated for the nonfiction narrative book of the year at the British Book Awards alongside the likes of Becoming by Michelle Obama. It’s safe to say that it has been a success, and you’ll soon be seeing an adaptation on your TV screens.
Everything I Know About Love has been recommended to me so many times by different friends, who raved about how its brilliance made them both laugh and cry. Some even referred to it as a bible for their 20s. With such high praises, I couldn’t help but be a bit skeptical.
I had been putting off reading it for ages and perhaps I was right to. I was disappointed because, more than anything else, it made me feel relatively bad about myself. Hoping that I’d have a breakthrough with it, I powered through. Whilst yes, there were genuine and sincere aspects to her story, it really made me question, is it worth the hype?
She starts off her memoir recounting her teenage years: the school days and all her antics. She then moves onto her time at the University of Exeter and talks of her endless romances (some might say she was a serial monogamist), with the occasional mention of her friends and their lives. This took up the main body of the first half of the book. I found it difficult to relate to any of her stories, in one of which she took a taxi from London to Leamington Spa after a night out to go to an after party.
Dolly somehow seems to have an underlying pessimistic view of everything around her whilst also managing to romanticise all her unhealthy behaviours. Her friendship with her best friend Farley being one of them. To me, their friendship comes across as toxic, with Dolly relying on her for everything, putting her before everyone and everything.
Her style of writing makes you feel as though you’re missing out on something. Her outlandish, reckless and somewhat bizarre experiences and relationships seem to become the baseline definition of fun and normality which, if you can’t relate to them, leaves you with a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) and regret.
Despite all this, I did find some sincerity and modesty in the way she speaks about some of her experiences. She addresses the subjects of illness, loss, and grief very carefully, presenting herself as the friend we’d all hope for in a similar situation. It wasn’t until the last third of the book, when she comes across as the more mature present version of herself with these more in-depth themes, that I was actually able to enjoy her writing.
Alongside this, Dolly presents therapy in a very positive light. Despite her own struggles with it at times, she is reflective and real about her experiences. Initially, she gives the impression that she is on a self-destructive war path, with nothing able to stop her, but through therapy she describes her development into the person she is today.
Overall, I’d say that Everything I Know About Love is not worth the hype. Dolly’s main trope is being relatable so if you don’t share her experiences, I’d argue it’s a bit of a nothing book.