“Everything I Know About Love” is the memoir of British journalist and author, Dolly Alderton. The book follows her life from childhood to her 30s as she navigates friendship, romantic relationships, mental and physical health, aging and more.
Though the book started slowly, I quickly became engaged in her life and wanted to know how she found a way through all of life’s curveballs. The book is unlike your typical memoir; it includes chapters that are about one specific topic, emails, recipes, and lessons learned at various ages. Rather than a strictly chronological chapter memoir, I found this approach to be much more enjoyable and interesting.
More than anything, the main focus of this book is the deep friendship between Dolly and her best friend, Farly. They are childhood friends who remained friends after grade school, high school, university, and after. The book details their growing and changing connection and the importance of female friendship.
Unlike many books with female leads that put romantic relationships with men at the centerpiece of the story, the friendship between Dolly and Farly acts as the most important connection and the strongest foundation throughout the book. A large part of her struggle in her friendship with Farly was when she found a serious boyfriend that consequently changed their friendship.
Throughout the story, Dolly finds it difficult to navigate her life without relying on Farly as much or having the same exact kind of relationship they had when they were young girls. She details this more in my favorite chapter called “Nothing Will Change.” She describes how so many of her friends who had found romantic long-term relationships had always had the same sentiment that their friendship would not change. Despite their promises, she knows that their relationship will inevitably change, and that’s a part of life.
This quote from the book demonstrates this well. “Everything will change. The love we have for each other stays the same, but the format, the tone, the regularity, and the intimacy of our friendship will change forever.”
I found this incredibly compelling, and reading it felt as though my thoughts were finally put into words. I think that many of us have come to the age where we’ve recognized that we have changed and grown as people. It can be a truly scary and isolating experience, but it can also be something beautiful and necessary. We’re in some of our most vulnerable and formative years as people.
This book acts as a guide for this weird and daunting part of our lives that doesn’t ever seem to get discussed enough. Dolly writes with such affection and attentiveness about this period of her life, and it is relatable to all people at any age. She provides a sense of comfort to let the audience know that they’re not alone in these feelings and that there is a way through it.
Another aspect of life that can be particularly alarming for women that Dolly details is aging. In another one of my favorite chapters, “Tottenham Court Road and Ordering Shit Off Amazon,” she recounts one of her friend’s 30th birthday when she was 21 years old. At first not being able to understand her friend’s terror and emotional state at the fact that she was turning 30, Dolly brings this back up when she turns 30 at the end of the book when she finally understands her friend’s breakdown. This chapter revolves around feeling lost and realizing the mundanity of life. Though she felt like she had an amazing group of friends, a family, and a job, she still grappled with uncertainty and no sense of self. She discusses how she was able to find a path to appreciating her life and forming a better foundation for her life.
This chapter was one of my favorites for several reasons. It was profoundly raw, emotional and honest. Similar to the chapter about change, this one can also be easily understood by anyone. These feelings are tough to pinpoint and feels as if there is no escape. Dolly reassures us that these feelings are universal and part of what makes us who we are.
One of the most famous lines from this book that went viral on social media comes in the chapter called, “Homecoming,” in which she recounts the journey of living with her friends as she is preparing to live alone for the first time.
“Nearly everything I know about love, I’ve learned in my long-term friendship with women.”
I believe this specific line went viral because of its celebration of girlhood and womanhood. So often female friendships are belittled, and this line places some much-needed attention on the beautiful nature of friendships with women. I believe that women have such a unique and genuine way of loving and caring for others, unlike many other relationships one may have throughout their life. I suggest searching the line on TikTok and reading and watching through some of the most delicate and lovely stories.
Not only does this stunning story exist on paper but it also was adapted for television. The show “Everything I Know About Love,” created and written by the author Dolly Alderton, is available for streaming on Peacock.