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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

The first novel from the award-winning, best-selling author of Everything I Know About Love.

Narrated by Holliday Grainger, star of Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tell It to the Bees and Animals

Nina Dean has arrived at her early 30s as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he's going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

A new relationship couldn't have come at a better time - her 30s have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone's moving to the suburbs. There's no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who's caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

Dolly Alderton's debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory and how we live now.

©2020 Dolly Alderton (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"I love this book. It is wise, funny, tender and true, sharply-observed and utterly hilarious. Dolly Alderton's talent is phenomenal." (Elizabeth Day)

"I loved it - Dolly Alderton has clearly mastered every form of writing. Which is a surprise to nobody." (Candice Carty-Williams)

"Loved it from start to finish, really laugh out loud: well-written, packed with ideas and observations and so engaging I can't put it down." (Philippa Perry)

What listeners say about Ghosts

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I so wanted to enjoy this !

So I struggled .... the performance of Holliday was such that her voice kept whispering off so had to turn the volume up - then she would blast my ears! I wonder if it is the performance which made this so blerch for me and made it seem so mightier than thou and all the description became this softly spoken wispy dreamlike nonsense which made me think the protagonist a pretentious wally.
I love Dolly and loved the first book and her high low podcast. But this was just a reworking of all her ideas in the previous book and conversations with cohost. And There was nothing new or developed in these ideas . if anything it was more bitter and horrible and seem to say that anyone following anything like a society convention is silly and self
Absorbed. It threw so much shade at women in relationships and hen dos that it made it uncomfortable to Listen to as it just sounded bitter. I really wanted more depth from the author than this and for her character to be less tearing down other women that were different to her and have some kind of character development...
basically it’s a thinly veiled fictionalised everything I know about love. Harmless but essentially won’t make you feel good to listen to it and also very London centric so if you’ve never lived in the capital you may find it quite alienating.

19 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Smug and irritating.

The narrator’s smug superior observations about all of her friends is really irritating. It must be exhausting to have so much insight into other people. Listened to first 5 chapters and found nothing to like about the main character at all.

11 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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I really wanted to love this book.....

Having read “Everything I know about love” and loved it, I was really looking forward to “Ghosts” but sadly I was disappointed.
I found the characters (apart from her Dad) were all really unlikeable. The main character’s attitude to women in any circumstances different to her own, seemed snide and condescending - the hen do, her mother, her friends who were new parents....
I did enjoy the parts of the story that concerned her dad but felt her attitude to her mum lacked any understanding.

The plumby tones of Hermione Granger’s narration, along with one of the character’s dismay of Cava being served at a wedding after the initial glass of champagne had run out, just added to the feeling of alienation as a reader albeit from a ‘world’ that I wouldn’t really want to be a part of anyway.

If you are single, well off and in your 30s then this book may be for you. It wasn’t for me.

10 people found this helpful

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Detestable main character; tedious story.

Well, I’ve never written a negative review before but I found this book so irritating, judgemental and dull that I felt I had to!
The main character lacks any likeable qualities and I never felt invested in her story whatsoever. I didn’t care about her father, her or her love life, and I felt her silly little philosophical snippets unbearable to listen to.
There was no depth anywhere in this story, except perhaps with her basic friendships; the romance story was predictable, just repetitive drivel.
There is some stupid theory about men playing computer games growing up leads them to ‘ghost’ women; I mean just so simplistic and insulting to the readers intelligence frankly.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good and bad in parts

SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW (JUST SAYING BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE DON'T!)
To be a sole less than 5 star review in amongst all the gushing... Is a bit weird ...
I listened to this as part of a book group. We had been influenced to read it because of very positive comments from Fi Glover and Jane Garvey, and Elizabeth Day; all people I rate as 'good people'.
I think of this book as a list of Pros and cons, which I will attempt to detail:
Pros: Dolly alderton's writing style is clever and witty and full of brilliant little descriptions and assides and observations, she seems like a genuinely decent person. She is both self deprecating and searingly critical. I didn't mind this and it's endearing, like being at a dinner party with a very clever, witty friend of a friend... But you would probably want to steer clear, incase her scalpel humour came too close to your own weaknesses and falsehoods...
I liked the main character, Nina, who I did sympathise with, and whom I genuinely thought was doing her best...
The whole story arc about her parents was very moving, well researched and felt real. She hit several nails on the head for me, and all of my book group.
The reader of the audiobook was good, I found her very sympathetic and non of the characters were too off to bear. The volume of her voice does dip at the end of some lines, but I didn't mind this at all, it's just her style and was part of the pleasure of her performance, for me.

Cons: well, it's very uneven. I could almost hear the conversation between the writer and her editor... Add this, put this bit here, remove that...
Ugg!
The stuff about Internet dating and her perfect in every way boyfriend, until the ghosting, was so weird in my mind... We, as readers, were supposed to be fooled by Max too, and the first person narrative did not give us many clues that the guy wasn't fine...
But, the main character did everything right in my mind, she was amazing really, not too rushed, not too believeing... Guarded... I mean, how was she supposed to know... There was no hint that she was missing things that we could see...
This made me cross in the end, because as a novel, it didn't work. How can your main character learn anything other than cynicism, by being failed in such a way. To have a relationship, at some point you have to trust and open up. Nina did nothing wrong...
Men get a very poor write up in this book... I know plenty of shitty blokes, but also some pretty decent ones...
And, then there's the horrible downstairs neighbour! He is slightly uncomfortably portrayed as Italian... (stereotype much!?)
I genuinely thought that this guy would eventually turn out to be the real deal and would act as a juxtaposition to the 'perfect' Max... But no! Rather than a clever, moving, passionate exploration of what it means to get to know a person who is messily real, we got a rushed denouement and a horrible sex scene.
The sex scene at the end is grim, I mean, WHAT?
All of my book group members were annoyed by this ending. God, it made me glad to not be 30... If this is the best you can expect. So, a guy she is scared of, as far as there has been ANY clue to the reader, walks angrily, uninvited into her home, and within moments, and NO CONSENT is implicitly given, he has sex with her... It's just rubbish! It's depressing TBH. I know some rough sex can be amazing, but this is not that scene... I hope!
Maybe we are supposed to be disturbed and I'm missing something, but is Dolly Alderton really saying, despite a generation of trying to get away from this sort of narrative, that what a clever woman really needs is to be f****d and she'll be fine. Or whatever!?
So, I was a bit surprised that this was so uneven and pretty immature in places... Being in my 50s is probably part of the reason, but I'm pretty glad to not be in the 'target' audience for this book, because the 'love' elements are very bleak and deeply flawed... I hope young women don't really feel this in general. Groan!
My book group, all friends from a posh private school, all the same age, all in long term marriages, could not comprehend why this book has been so overwhelmingly praised. We talked a lot about the book industry, and how 'influencers' do each other favours to big up each other's books... It's left me with a bad taste. I mean, this woman can write... But this is not a masterpiece, and has some disturbing conclusions. Yes, life can be shit, dating is not easy and potentially very unequal between the genders. But, you know, careers are also pretty amazing too, and even the best marriages don't meet all your needs. I hope DA goes on to write a lot more and that it's more mature, emotionally rewarding work... I hope so...

5 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Judgemental trash, overly critical of women

The main character is deeply unlikeable and self-righteous, judging all women in her life and classifying them according to their different life stages. Female friends who have settled down are described as tragic/ out of touch/ boring, her mother is depicted as dim and selfish, and her one single friend is totally patronised by the narrator and every other character in the book. Even tiny appearances from female characters (her publishers assistant for example) are written in a way which makes them seem pathetic. The way Holliday Granger reads the book is like someone doing a parody of a self-righteous , posh millenial (not sure if this was on purpose?) which makes the book even more jarring and hard to listen to. Tried to stick with this as have read so much praise for Dolly Alderton but had to stop after 7 chapters.

3 people found this helpful

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  • HD
  • 27-11-20

Boring, dull, unlikeable, unbelievable

A really unlikeable main character who feels the need to bitch about ALL of her friends and colleagues. It's a little like Bridget Jones but with no comedy, and really dull. Despite being published this year it feels really dated - girl slagging off men and dating apps seems very 2015, and I struggled to enjoy it. Bizarrely, despite it being set in London and the main character literally growing up in Mile End, there are zero Bame people apart from a foreign neighbour who is a huge misogynist and unpleasant person for most of the book. Lovely!

There's some touching moments with her dad, but that isn't enough to make up for the rest of this book.

I really, really wouldn't recommend this to anyone, and I am the exact target audience: professional, living in London 30-something female.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable, laugh out loud story and great reading

I think that the narrator of this book really did make it 100% more enjoyable, the story itself is engaging, both hilarious and sad, and also uplifting. But the reason just did such a splendid job of portraying the characters. I am a fan of Dolly, but I don’t think that the author reading their own work is always the best option (perhaps Dolly would have been fine, she has a great voice for podcasting).

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful.

Fabulous narration by Holliday Grainger. Got through it over a couple of days. Most enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Boring

Depressing, unrelatable trash. Characters are not believable or likable. Very disappointed. The story never gets started and what is there is predicable. This book demonises men and I'm sure the author has no idea what feminism is although she trys to portray the main character as a feminist. Oh and anyone with children will move to Surrey apparently! All the women come across as desperate, pathetic morons. The attempt at romance was pitiful.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-03-21

Brilliant - aptly captures dating in the 21st century!

Funny, vulnerable and honest - really enjoyed this sometimes lighthearted book. Recommended if you’ve tried and failed at online dating 😎

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-01-21

Easy read

I really liked the idea of this novel and the overall theme is so relatable! I felt nina Dean was dolly herself and similar to her first book, although the first book wasnt a novel. I love dollys writing so I was going to enjoy it regardless.

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  • Eili Skrivervik
  • 26-12-20

I loved it

What a book! I ate it up in no time. A timely tale of being a 30 something (single) woman today.