A friend of mine recommended this book to me – she said it reminded her of our time at university and would make me laugh, so I’d had my eye on it for a while.
When I started reading it, I thought, ‘Hmm, is this for me? This woman is young, I’ve got two decades on her…will I be able to relate to her?’ She was talking about MSN messaging boys in her mid-teenage years. My own were spent pre pre pre internet, sulking in the corner of school discos in a black & white mini skirt and a new romantic blouse as everyone else slow danced to Hazel O’Connor. If I was to get communication from boys after school, it would be via the pistachio green phone in the hall, with the curly cord that stretched as far as the dining room, where I could shut the door…
Did I want to read on?
Reader, I read on. And I’m so glad I did.
I loved this book. It was hilarious and sad and brilliant and insightful, and I could relate to all of it.
It certainly did remind me of my university years…some of Dolly’s drunken madcap adventures were howlingly similar to my own (although we didn’t have texting in those days, so I was spared from contacting a boy in Leamington Spa and getting a taxi there at 4 in the morning, via the MI. Actually, I lived in Leamington Spa…). I pretty much was Dolly, in those days. The buying of a bottle of wine each, to drink from a plastic cup, really resonates with me. And I must remind my old uni friends about the time the students union held a Blind Date night and …(well, we’ll leave that there!!!!).
As the book continued, it just got better and better: the house shares, the life in London, the soul-searching, the drinking, the endless questing of twenty-somethings who are still trying to figure it all out (that never goes away, by the way). My husband and kids kept asking me what I was laughing at. ‘Just this book,’ I told them. ‘It’s really funny.’ (Side note – my twelve-year-old son announced this week that books were ‘pointless’. Once I’m over the shock, I’m going to enroll him in some kind of boot camp where he has to sit in his bedroom and inhale the classics of great of literature until he gets it…)
It doesn’t matter that I am Generation X and Dolly is Generation Y, that she had texting and the internet when I had, ‘I hope he turns up, otherwise I’ll just have to go home again’… Her experiences in her twenties, though wilder and way more hilarious and laugh-out-loud, astonishingly crazy than most, are pretty universal; these are the years, if you’re going to have them, of hedonism and unbridled freedom; of yearning for love and romance and a boy who’ll see you for who you are, though you don’t even know yourself yet; dread as thirty finally, and inevitably, looms on the horizon and you still don’t feel remotely like a grown up, or ready for dinner parties, or sophisticated couples mini-breaks to stately homes…
And, there is friendship. This book is about wonderful, illuminating, lifetime-lasting friendship. Dolly, twenty years ahead of you, I still have my treasured university friends and I have that love you talk about so wittily and wonderfully. Lucky me. It is enduring. It is everything.
This book was amazing, and everyone should read it, immediately if not before. I adored it. The writing was amazing – so clever and hilarious and imaginative and quirky. I loved the spoofy baby shower and wedding invites peppered about the book. I loved how Dolly’s words transverse all the generations, X, Y, Z, whatever.
Dolly Alderton really knows a lot about love.
*The next autobiography on my list is Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star, by Tracey Thorn.*