Summary (from the publisher): Nina Dean is not especially bothered that she’s single. She owns her own apartment, she’s about to publish her second book, she has a great relationship with her ex-boyfriend, and enough friends to keep her social calendar full and her hangovers plentiful. And when she downloads a dating app, she does the seemingly impossible: She meets a great guy on her first date. Max is handsome and built like a lumberjack; he has floppy blond hair and a stable job. But more surprising than anything else, Nina and Max have chemistry. Their conversations are witty and ironic, they both hate sports, they dance together like fools, they happily dig deep into the nuances of crappy music, and they create an entire universe of private jokes and chemical bliss.
But when Max ghosts her, Nina is forced to deal with everything she’s been trying so hard to ignore: her father’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and so is her mother’s denial of it; her editor hates her new book idea; and her best friend from childhood is icing her out. Funny, tender, and eminently, movingly relatable, Ghosts is a whip-smart tale of relationships and modern life.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
I always have some favorite books unexpectedly sneak up on me during the last two months of the year, and this year it includes Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts. Ghosts is the Bad on Paper Podcast November book club pick. I liked the sound of its synopsis, following a thirty two year old woman named Nina who hasn’t the best of luck when it comes to dating, but I swore I kept seeing rave & rave reviews everywhere as soon as it was announced as a BOP pick and it made me need to pick it up ASAP. I was actually in the middle of another book when Ghosts came in from the library & put that book aside to gobble up Ghosts in less than 2 days.
Ghosts is set in 2018 London (yes, it’s a British contemporary but not a chick lit/contemporary romance type of British contemporary), following writer & chef Nina as she decides to finally go on a popular dating app called Linx. Nearly all of Nina’s friends, including her childhood best friend Katherine and even her ex-boyfriend but still friend Joe, have all moved on and are in the engaged/married/married-with-kids part of life, while Nina feels like she is constantly reminded of her singledom alongside her best friend, Lola. Nina’s family life also feels like it is slowly crumbling apart, as her father has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her mother struggles to accept his condition. Nina starts to feel like her life might just be coming together when she meets a man named Max through Linx, only to be ghosted by him weeks later..
Ghosts has been highly praised for being the most realistic depiction of modern dating. Although I admit I have had little to no experience with online dating & am about ten years younger than the main protagonist, this book did feel so honest & authentic to dating in your twenties & thirties. Yes, the book’s title and synopsis obviously gives away to the fact that Nina is ghosted by Max, but the book is really about Nina’s response to not just the ghosting, but more like all these disappearances, or ghosts, in her life being created, from friends moving on to their own next stages to her father’s worsening Alzheimer’s and loss of memory.
The book is a little on the dark humor side, but there were so many one-lines & zingers, especially from Lola, that had me literally laughing out loud. One of my favorite scenes between Lola & Nina was Lucy’s hen-do (aka bachelorette party) and their inside commentary. The writing style of the book is a little bit on the deeper and slightly literary side, but the dialogue and narration is full of such wit that gives it this sense of light-heartedness too??
What I also just overall loved about this book was that Nina was such an easy protagonist to love & root for. It was really easy to get invested in the story because every aspect was so interesting and well-developed, from Nina’s dating life to her friendships to her job as a food writer and book author to her family. I of course loved exploring Nina’s dating life, but I also equally liked the family exploration. Nina is terrified of losing her dad and seeing him lose bits of himself each day, while Nina and her mother are at a heads in their own relationship and how to help Nina’s father. Nina also has a complicated relationship with her childhood best friend, Katherine, as Kat has embraced life as a married mom & shows some dismay toward’s Nina’s “lifestyle.” I also really liked the book’s positive depiction of Nina’s relationship with her ex, Joe. The book was overall just such an incredibly well-rounded read.
Overall, Ghosts is one of those books I just want to buy multiple copies of & throw them into everyone’s hands to read. This book is for sure a 2021 favorite and one I hope to revisit – I also definitely now want to check out Dolly Alderton’s memoir, Everything I Know About Love.
Have you read Ghosts? What did you think? Have you read Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love? Share in the comments!