Review: Everything I Know About Love

OH, but this book.

I’m a fiction girl, through and through. Let’s get that out of the way now. I think probably 99.9% of the books I read are novel length stories that some genius person made up in their head. That’s not to say I don’t like poetry, or short stories, or books that are biographical/autobiographical in nature, or books that say they are going to tell me lots of things that I don’t know but I wish that I did, it’s just that I don’t tend to gravitate towards them…and I am unsure why that is. Anyhow, I wanted to do something about that – broaden my bookish horizons so to speak and so when Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love kept flitting across my radar and I realised that this could be a book that I related to, I decided that I wanted to read it. I was desperate to read it. For the first time since well, EVER, I was all grabby-hands impatient for a book that was less fiction and more autobiographical. And then the usual thing happened: I got it, and it took me ALL OF TIME to get around to reading it. I’ve had this baby on my Kindle since last year and the thing is that I’m trying to get the balance between reading the things I should read in order to get my reviews up in a timely fashion and also reading the things that I am in the mood for (and also my desperation to read it was mixed with a teeny bit of trepidation: this is not my usual thing)

And then I read it last weekend.

And I loved it.

Dolly Alderton let me be your friend.

This book: I was not prepared to love it this hard.

I mean I kind of thought it was going to hit the spot for me – Dolly is my generation (a few years younger actually but hush I am not prepared to be 35 this year) and the things she talks about, from being a teenage girl on MSN onwards resonated with me so hard but it was more than that; I felt, as I was reading, like: here is a girl who gets me and that’s going to be the thing here I think – girls (women) of a certain age are going to read it and laugh and tear up and feel understood. It’s raw, it’s incredibly incredibly honest and it’s one of the easiest books I’ve read in a long time; it felt more like sitting down for a catch up with an old friend you haven’t seen for years than anything else; it was effortless. I loved it. And Dolly Alderton can write and she can write about love in all of its guises, even the bad ones.

Dolly takes us with her through her life, from her teenage years to now – through MSN crushes and drunken university exploits, through one night stands and a fixation on being The Party Girl, through bad relationships with men and amazing friendships with incredible women, through feeling sometimes like she was on the outside – especially as her best friend got engaged – as everybody started to move out and move on.  It’s a no holds barred story of what it’s like to live and love in the 2000’s and it’s fabulous. It’s funny, it’s truthful, it’s clever and insightful and it is full of little things that make you think ‘oh, me too’ and ‘yes thank you exactly that’ and ‘what do you mean if I press shift and F3 it makes something all capitals or not? Mindblown.’

It’s a gem of a book this one, an absolute gem and it both got me and got to me so that as it came to a close I felt moved, with a lump in my throat, not because it was sad but because I felt…I don’t know, somehow exposed and connected. It was a weird and unexpected rush of emotion and I was entirely unprepared for it.

More than anything it made me grateful for my own Farly who feels like the other half of me, and grateful for the handful of girlfriends I have who whilst all wildly different all bring out the best in me in their own special ways and grateful for the guy who calls me late at night because I have period pain and I want to hear his voice. It reminded me of everything I know about love. It reminded me of forgotten nights out and the carelessness of youth – of drinking too much and sleeping too much and going out at 11pm on a Wednesday night just because we could, of broken hearts and side-aching laughter and belonging.

Also the lists – the lists scattered throughout the book of what Dolly knew about love at a certain age. They made me laugh in recognition, they made me want to high five her, they made me want to climb inside the book and be friends with this sparking intelligent insightful woman, and also a little bit ask her to please, please get out of my head.

I could go on about this for all of time, I could quote passages at you to the point I had infringed upon several copyright laws, but here’s the crux of the matter: I fucking LOVED this book guys. & I think you will too. Be prepared in fact, for me to be shoving this book at you and demanding that you read it, please read it, because you should. (This is one of those, Helen, that I would have snuck out of my room and into your room to leave on your bed.)

It's out now so go, get yourself a copy. 

Here are (a few of my very many) my best bits.

I didn’t fall in love; love fell on me. Like a ton of bricks from a great height.

 ^^ This, though. Just, this. 

We have never properly rowed unless steaming drunk on a night out. We have never lied to each other. In over fifteen years I have never gone more than a few hours without thinking about her. I only make sense with her there to act as my foil and vice versa. Without the love of Farly, I am just a heap of frayed and half-finished thoughts; of blood and skin and muscle and bone and unachievable dreams and a stack of shit teenage poetry under her bed…..She knows where to find everything in me and I know where all her stuff is too. She is, in short, my best friend.

: : 

I thought of how excited I always am to tell her about a good piece of news or get her view when a crisis happens; how she’s still my favourite person to go dancing with. How her value increased the more history we shared together, like a beautiful precious work of art hanging in my living room.

: :

We marvel at a nectarine sunset over the M25 or the smell of a baby’s head or the efficiency of flat-pack furniture, even though we know that everyone we love will cease to exist one day. I don’t know how we do it.

: :

You probably don’t have a wheat intolerance, you’re just not eating wheat in a normal sized portion. 90-100g of pasta or two slices of bread. Everyone feels weird after eating a whole pack of Hovis. You’d feel weird after earing an entire watermelon too.

: :

Sex, really, really does get better with age. If it keeps improving like it has done so far, I’ll be in a state of constant coitus aged ninety. There will be no point in doing anything else. Apart from maybe pausing in the afternoon to eat a Bakewell Slice.

: :

To lower your heart rate and drift off on nights where sleep feels impossible, dream of all the adventures that lie ahead of you and the distances you’ve travelled so far. Wrap your arms tightly around your body and, as you hold yourself, hold this one thought in your head: I’ve got you.