“The morning sun leaked into my bedroom and poured onto my mattress in a bright white puddle. I stretched out diagonally in my bed across the cool sheet. I was completely alone, but I had never felt safer. It wasn’t the bricks around me that I’d somehow managed to rent or the roof over my head that I was most grateful for. It was the home I now carried on my back like a snail. The sense that I was finally in responsible and loving hands.”
The morning sun leaked into my bedroom and poured onto my mattress in a bright white puddle. I stretched out diagonally in my bed across the cool sheet.
There are moments when I have stood, plunging down the cafetiere with one hand while balancing the Sunday newspaper in the other, or taken a seat exactly where I like it on the edge somewhere towards the back of a cinema on a Tuesday afternoon, or laid across my bed like a duchess, or closed my eyes for a second as I tilted my head back in the sun while walking through a park, when I wondered where all the literature was about the romance that you have with yourself.
There have been many such moments since I moved to a new city on my own earlier this year. In fact, I don’t think that more than a few hours have gone by without a moment like that.
I still wonder where all the books are that talk about such things, but I know now of at least one: Dolly Alderton’s memoir Everything I Know About Love. You may already be a fan of Dolly’s from her newsletter, or her columns in British newspapers and magazines, or her insanely popular current affairs podcast The High Low. Or you might not be familiar with her work.
You don’t need to be to love this book. A memoir broken up into story-based chapters, Everything I Know About Love tells the story of Dolly’s relationships with her parents, with romance, with men, with her body, with work, with education, with her female friends and with herself. It is a remarkable book, so warm and unpretentious, clever and witty, the kind of book that reads like a conversation you might have with your best friend as you lay side by side on a blowup mattress in her childhood home. It is a book that reads like a big bear hug, like a cup of tea, like your best jumper, like whatever it is that makes you feel that exact kind of happy and sad that makes you cry even as you smile.
It is a book that reads like a big bear hug, like a cup of tea, like your best jumper, like whatever it is that makes you feel that exact kind of happy and sad that makes you cry even as you smile.
The book has struck a chord, charting on the bestseller lists for months and months in a row, sparking a sell-out tour and spawning a popular podcast in which Dolly interview famous men and women about everything they know about love.
But it’s the book itself that is worth visiting and revisiting, not just for the grimace-worthy anecdotes of drunken snogs at awful house parties or misadventures at university or the ridiculous email chains about fictional hen dos and baby showers and pay-your-way weddings. The best chapters are all stacked at the end when Dolly writes about living with and loving her best friends as a 20-something, and through them, learning to see how much love she can and does have for herself. It should be required reading for everyone going through the same.