I just finished reading Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton. And by just finished, I mean I swiped the last page within the kindle for iPad app I was using and pulled out my laptop to write this on a flight home from Lanzarote.
Book reviews are not really my thing. I love books, I recommend books, I buy my best friends books (and I have ordered Everything I Know About Love for two of them already) but I don’t tend to analyse books for review. Depending on the time, the place, my mood, I get something totally different out of a book than if I had picked it up a week or a month later – and find that my recollection of the books content is entirely subjective and not helpful.
But I really want you to read Everything I Know About Love so I’m making an exception and telling you why!
So where am I right now? I’m 26, I’m sober, I moved back to rural Norfolk after 7 years in London and I am single. Last week I had an internal melt down as a friend messaged me about her new boyfriend; she’s been married, divorced and now has new boyfriend since I last had a serious relationship. This is my own neurosis’ making me upset, nothing to do with said friend (and I am happy for her, I really am), but the reaction was still there.
I have over done *self-improvement* books recently and so on holiday I picked up Dolly’s Everything I Know About Love. I had a pre-copy, which had been downloaded on my kindle for a while but I had felt unable to read anything with love in the title – it’s safe to say I picked it up at exactly the right time. Testament to the brilliance of this book, I’ve whizzed through it in less than three days. This isn’t really a book about romantic love, Dolly retraces her relationships with men but it is her female friendships lead the narrative.
If you’ve ever listened to The High Low Podcast (or it’s predecessor PanDolly), or read any of Dolly’s journalism in magazines like The Sunday Times Style, Red or Grazia, you’ll recognise her down to earth, say-what-she-thinks style throughout Everything I Know About Love.
You’ll get to know Dolly and her friends; Farley, Belle, India, and the intricacies and imperfectness of their relationships could well be those of your (my) own circle of friends. The stories of break-up’s and make-up’s, of friends coupling up with new boyfriends and the growing up and out of house shares makes for a very comforting read.
Why you should read Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton if you are single
Dolly’s stories of past relationships, flings and one night stands felt very familiar. I found comfort as I read through the pages and often found myself nodding “me too”.
The chapter on a romantic fling that happened almost entirely via shared texts and phone calls had me gripped. The build-up of a relationship dream, created almost entirely via virtual communication is something that I (and many of my friends) have experienced whilst single in our twenties. It is the familiar tale of Bumble dates, Tinder romances and perfect strangers that become so much more in our heads.
“Friends exchanged similarly embarrassing stories to make me feel better, tales of being tricked into false intimacy with strangers.” – Dolly Alderton, Everything I Know About Love
Sound familiar? It certainly is to me, and lead me to question how often I get wrapped up in an idea of a romance rather than the reality of the situation.
Why you should read Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton if you are in, or thinking about, therapy
Dolly’s frankness about her therapy journey is much needed. If you are in therapy, or have concerns about going to therapy, then please read her book.
I’ve been in continuous therapy for the last 9 months (currently on a break as my therapist is on maternity) and Dolly puts into words so much of what I have discovered and felt in therapy but have been unable to verbalise.
“The big myth about therapy is that it’s all about pointing the blame at other people; but as the weeks passed, I found the opposite to be true… Eleanor rarely let me pass the accountability on to someone else and always forced me to question what I had done to end up in a particularly bad situation, which is why I always dreaded our sessions.” – Dolly Alderton, Everything I Know About Love
Therapy has had a big part to play in my life changing over the last year, and of my continued sobriety and faith in myself. It is not something to be ashamed of and regular therapy can be a lifeline if you struggle with anxiety, depression or have experienced traumatic life events. Dolly put’s it better than me: “her true form started to take shape in front of me. A woman who was on my side.”
I’m so glad that I picked this book up when I did, and I’m grateful that Dolly was brave enough to write it
The love that Dolly has learnt about from her friendships lead me to reflect on the strong friendships within my own life, and for that I am very grateful. Her realisation that she can maintain relationships, as her twenty-year friendship is still going strong and has grown deeper with age, nudged me to recognise this as my own reality.
“All this time I had been led to believe that my value in a relationship was my sexuality, which is why I always behaved like a sort of cartoon nymphomaniac. I hadn’t ever thought that a man could love me in the same way my friends love me; that I could love a man with the same care and commitment I love them.” – Dolly Alderton, Everything I Know About Love
Buy it for yourself, buy it for your sister, and buy it for each and every one of your girlfriends when they struggle with being single.
Final note: Dolly isn’t sober, so I wouldn’t read this if you are in very early sobriety and find tales of drinking triggering. She talks about her own struggles with alcohol and how she has cut down as she’s grown older and learnt more about herself.