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door Dolly Alderton

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Toon 2 van 2
Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts is a worthy addition to fiction about women not having it all – career, love, family and friends. It’s clever and takes a more realistic look at dating and ageing family, balancing the down times with fun and frivolity. Some of it works brilliantly, some of it is a bit weird but that’s life.

Nina is doing well on the career front. She’s been able to give up teaching for her passion, food writing and buy a London flat too. She has a great, quirky friend in Lola and a friend from high school (Katherine) who she’s drifting away from. Nina is even great mates with her ex and his new partner. But her dad has dementia, her mum seems intent on living life like she’s in her twenties and she’s single. Until she joins a dating app and meets Max. It’s all going very well, very quickly. Even though her publisher hates her new book idea and her neighbour is from hell, it doesn’t matter. Not until things take an unexpected turn on several fronts as fading relationships, her dad’s illness and the cringeworthy hen’s weekend come to the fore. Will Nina still end up with it all?

Ghosts is a well-blended combination of seriousness and serious issues and outright fun. It’s got something that anyone can relate to – the best friend who now only wants to talk children and houses and is frustrated when Nina won’t/can’t do the same and the realisation that not everything will be perfect by a set date and age. There is a great analogy in the book about men being like PlayStations, with the aim to complete the level and the game and move on. It will resonate with anyone who has ticked off achievements in that exact way. The online dating, agony over texts and WhatsApp status will be familiar to many of this generation. I also enjoyed that Ghosts was about more than just Nina ticking off the relationship with Max and that Max wasn’t the sole focus of the novel. There are a couple of subplots that didn’t fit in quite as well, such as the conclusion of Nina’s argument with her neighbour. It felt forced (as did her ‘prank’ on him and his parcels) and just out of character for both Nina and the novel. I also thought the differences between Nina and her mum were wrapped up a bit too quickly and nicely.

There is a good level of detail in the characters, plot and setting of Ghosts. The way it focuses on multiple areas of Nina’s life keeps the reader interested and the contemporary themes keep it fresh. ( )
  birdsam0610 | Jan 2, 2021 |
I think Ghosts is one of the most highly anticipated reads of the year and absolutely rightly so. It's a brilliant book. It's a slice of life story following Nina Dean over a rather tumultuous year.

Nina is a food writer, just about to turn 32 as the book begins. Having split with her long-term boyfriend, Joe, she's now single again and perhaps looking for a new relationship. I say perhaps because I don't think she needs a man to complete her. Nevertheless, she joins a dating app and meets Max, a man who seems almost perfect, and they head full throttle into love.

I don't want to say too much about what happens between them but the clue is in the title and my God, I felt a visceral reaction to what happened. In fact, I found myself exclaiming aloud on a number of occasions whilst reading Ghosts. I think partly that is because it's written in the first person and I was completely drawn into Nina's narrative. It felt like she was taking me into her confidence and I felt like I cared what happened to her. I was raging about her issues with her neighbour and the situation with Max.

This is a book that put me through myriad emotions. Nina's dad is ill and there are many touching moments between them. Then there was the humour with Nina's friend, Lola, who is a tad eccentric but so much fun. And the lovely friendship between Joe and Nina, very mature and hopeful.

Despite all this, I honestly wasn't sure if the book was going to be for me when I started reading it. I wasn't sure I would gel with Nina's lifestyle and whether I would identify with her. It didn't take very long before I realised that I loved Nina, and whether I identified with her or not, I thought she was brilliant and brave, kind and funny, complicated and focused.

There's so much to engage the reader in this book. Dolly Alderton's writing is sublime and her characterisations are razor sharp. The relationship between Nina and her parents is a delight to read. I also really enjoyed Nina's job and how cooking was brought into the storyline. Everything in this book simply pops off the page and provides such an immersive experience. I can't wait to read more fiction from this author. Ghosts is superb! ( )
  nicx27 | Oct 15, 2020 |
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