Alice O’Keeffe, Books Editor at The Bookseller, said: “Our shortlists this year took the judges from Georgian London to the Second World War to contemporary New York. There are books from exciting fresh voices at the very start of their career, contrasted with books from with well-established brand authors at the top of their game. These are the books that sum up 2018 but which, we think, will be read for years to come.”
Christened as this generation’s Nora Ephron, former Sunday Times Style dating columnist Dolly Alderton hits home with a book that’s part dating diary, part roadmap through today’s maze of modern relationships. All of life is here, from those first fledgling steps into adulthood to the eureka understanding that truly being yourself is enough. Relatable, frank and achingly funny, Everything I Know about Love is essential reading for anyone who has ever fallen in (and out) of love.
Alderton is an old soul – not just because of her appreciation for Gene Kelly and Paul Simon but because she has learned life lessons while not yet out of her twenties that many of us post-menopausal matrons are still struggling with. This is the story of a “bored and sad and lonely” girl stranded in suburbia who became not the woman she dreamed of being – “elegant and slim and wearing black dresses and drinking Martinis” – but something much better; a wonderful writer, who will surely inspire a generation the way that Caitlin Moran and my sensational self did before her.
The 20s is a decade of transformation and Alderton charts her own with wry humour and a lot of heart. Alderton learns everything she knows about love by way of unsuitable men (there's an intriguing interlude with a sociopathic guru), burnout and therapy, before the realisation that her greatest, most enduring love affair has been with her female friends. By the end of the book, we leave Alderton poised on the cusp of her 30s and presumably with more journeys of self-discovery ahead of her. I look forward to the next instalment.
Like a Jackson Pollock, the method here looks deceptively simple until you gaze deeper and realise that only this writer, in this time, could have made such a mesmerising pattern from mess and colour. From first to last, we get a sense of a young woman muddling through life, sometimes getting it wrong but always trying to improve and understand. This brilliant debut shows that she’s well on her way.