everything I know about love

written by dolly alderton

I’m curled up on a Friday afternoon in Ourense, Spain. It’s pouring outside, and I’ve just finished reading a book about love, supposedly.

My reading life up until 2019 has been the literary canon, fiction by contemporary women and minorities, nonfiction by authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton, some NYT best sellers, and a lot of teen fiction prior to undergrad. I love all these categories of books, they are comfortable yet challenging.

However, in 2019, I have ditched my chosen classics and social justice reading twice to read the trendy works of young women that fit into the self-help section at the bookstore. Honestly, it has not been my cup of tea. But for the sake of my 2019 goal to read a whole lot of books before I return to the hustle and bustle of school, I finished Dolly Alderton’s everything I know about love.

My take on everything I know about love

Overall, I related to Alderton’s book very little. After 330 pages, I closed the book uninspired and happy to get back to reading the memoir of HRC, What Happened.

Dolly Alderton shared her story, but with so many tales of drunk nights, one night stands, and upset over her friends finding love, she lost me after the first 100 pages. Still, I finished the book, so I could tell you all about it.

My review of this book is broken into three sections to help express the shock I felt for the first 100 pages, the short chapters that made me laugh out loud, and the one chapter that brought a tear to my eye.

Regardless of my aversion to some chapters, I still to commend Dolly for being vulnerable and sharing her story up until year twenty-eight.

My jaw dropped… (for like 100 pages)

Dolly Alderton was fascinated by alcohol from a young age, claiming that she got drunk for the first time as a child. Throughout her university years and into adulthood, she continued to binge drink and abuse alcohol. Drinking to the point where it affected her work, friendships, relationships, and education. The majority of the first third of this book is Alderton retelling stories of nights gone awry when the liquor began flowing in the afternoon and continued until the sun came back up.

I felt these chapters to be sad, all the while waiting for Alderton to talk about alcohol being a drug or the disease of alcoholism. These chapters might be exciting to a different reader, but as someone who has just left undergrad and the culture of Friday nights spent at college town bars, I felt these pages to be uninteresting and that they went on for far too long.

Alderton also shares her story of “being too thin” in which she was starving herself for months to the point where to felt faint even just being awake. Similarly to the chapters focused on the overconsumption of alcohol, Alderton does not really unpack her eating disorder but glosses over how she got skinnier and skinnier before finally starting to gain weight to not worry her new boyfriend.

This chapter “Being a bit fat, being a bit thin” really rubbed me the wrong way. For not identifying the health dangers of her eating disorder, actively ignoring her concerned friends and family, and deciding to gain weight to keep a man she had just met around.

Sigh, Dolly. I seem like a harsh critic, but alcoholism and eating disorders deserve some serious attention if brought up instead of being brushed away and diving into another quick romance.

* On page 223, Alderton begins to see a therapist. She does start drinking less at this point. Still, she does not talk about the eating disorder or alcohol as a mental health/drug issue.

I laughed…

everything I know about love has a few redeemable short (1-2 page) chapters. I have decided to include a few of my favorite quotes from these chapter below.

Everything I Knew About Love as a Teenager

It’s a good idea to get married a bit later in life and after you’ve lived a bit. Say, twenty-seven.

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 2

Everything I Knew About Love at Twenty-One

If you ignore the boyfriends of your best friends for long enough, they’ll eventually go away. Treat them a bit like how you would treat the common cold or a mild case of thrush.

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 78

The Most Annoying Things People Say


– ‘I’m not going to have a starter, are you?’

– ‘I’m more of a boys’ girl’

-‘I’m engaged!’

-‘Marilyn Monroe was a size 16’

… it goes on

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 104

Everything I Knew About Love at Twenty-Five

The boyfriends of your best friends will, annoyingly, stick around. Most of them won’t be exactly who you imagined your best friend would end up with.

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 162

Reasons to Have a Boyfriend and Reasons Not to Have a Boyfriend

a few of the Reasons to have a boyfriend:

– Something to talk about

– Something to talk at

– Sunday afternoons

– More sympathy when you do something really wrong at work

– Might have a car

– Everyone else has one

a few of the Reasons not to have a boyfriend:

– They’ll point out when you exaggerate stories

– Not reading as much

– You’ll probably miss flirting with people

– Hairs all over the bathroom

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 164-165

Texts That My Flatmate India Has Let Me Send Off Her Phone Pretending to Be Her

one example:

A text to Paul, a man India once snogged

India: Hi. How are you?

Paul: Good thanks! How are you?

India: Great to hear from you. I have a request — I’m in the middle of starting a dance troupe, mainly traditional Irish dancing but don’t let that put you off, there will most certainly be a modern twist. Anyway, it can make you a lot of money come wedding season and I wondered if you fancied a piece of the pie? It wouldn’t take you long to learn the routines and frankly we need someone tall in the back. Let me know what you think.

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 217-218

Everything I Know About Love at Twenty-Eight

The perfect man is kind, funny and generous. He bends down to say hello to dogs and puts up shelves.

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 327

Emma’s note: With what I have learned at 23, this is so very true. Generosity of time, energy, love.

Let your friends abandon you for a relationship once. The good ones will always come back.

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 328

I cried…

After my harsh critique of Dolly Alderson’s years of partying, I do want to stop and take a second to acknowledge that writing such a personal book like this is an extremely vulnerable act. For that reason, I commend her.

Dolly moved me to tears in one main way. Dolly and her best friend Farly share such true love and friendship. In their young twenties, Farly’s younger sister Florence becomes sick with cancer. Alderson writes so beautifully about how she supported Farly and rooted on Florence. The section of the book is touching, relatable, well-written, and devastating.

When it comes to love, I do not envy Dolly for any of her romantic relationships. However, the love that she has found with women, her best friends, is really spectacular.

Nearly everything I know about love, I’ve learnt in my long-term friendships with women.

Dolly Alderton, everything I know about love, pg. 314

To conclude:

Although this book was not right for me, I think there are certain experiences of Dolly’s regarding alcohol and dating that other readers will find much more relatable.

This book is not full of answers, more so funny stories with friends spent during Dolly’s teens and twenties. If you are looking for relationship or romantic love advice look elsewhere. This book is about women sharing love and friendship.

Thanks for reading my review about everything I know about love by Dolly Alderton. Next up is What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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