cover image Ghosts


Dolly Alderton. Knopf, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-31985-7

The sprightly, sometimes touching debut novel by British memoirist Alderton (Everything I Know About Love) follows a cookbook author through her life’s “strangest year.” Nina, 32, has bought a flat in London and is taking a break from men after amicably breaking up with her first boyfriend, Joe, who has since gotten engaged and with whom she remains friends. Now, with most of her friends married, having kids, and moving to the suburbs, she hits a dating app in search of love. She promptly meets Max, a 37-year-old surfer, “his eyes shining, his beard golden brown, his skin burnished from sunbeams.” Things between them go swimmingly for months before he ghosts her, leaving her to cope with heartbreak, her beloved father’s advancing dementia, her increasing estrangement from her friends, and her unnerving downstairs neighbor. Alderton doesn’t exactly cover new ground as she moves through the obligatory scenes: an awkward weekend with Joe’s fiancée and her friends, an uncomfortable wedding, difficult conversations with Nina’s parents, and frustrating get-togethers with old friends. Still, this should hit the spot for readers of women’s fiction who appreciate the familiar. (Aug.)