ournalist and author Dolly Alderton is in Cambridge on 20 February as part of a UK-wide tour to mark the paperback release of her bestselling debut, Everything I Know About Love . Her wildly successful book is best described as a series of chronological essays, charting Dolly’s experiences from her early 20s through to almost 30, and includes her ever-evolving thoughts on friendship, love and growing up. There’s also laugh-out- loud sections on the horrors of event- organising group emails and a very reliable recipe for macaroni cheese, Hello DOLLY Though the live event is hooked on the themes of the book, it’s not directly about the book itself: “It’s more about us talking through the millennial female experience and growing up: it’s nostalgic and anecdotal, and looking to the future,” the author says. The audience is invited to ask questions, which again, tend to spin off into wider themes. “Most of that section [of the show] ends up being women looking for advice, which I often feel like I’m in no position – in terms of experience or expertise – to advise on. I think it feels like a really supportive space – Lauren and I try to set the tone of it being honest and irreverent, but also safe. It does turn into a bit of group therapy and the section often goes on for twice as long as you think it will, because women just aren’t really afforded space a lot of the time, where they’re allowed to talk about their experiences in a way that’s taken seriously and J EDITION CATCHES UP WITH BESTSELLING AUTHOR DOLLY ALDERTON AHEAD OF HER LIVE SHOW IN CAMBRIDGE THIS MONTH WORDS BY CHARLOTTE GRIFFITHS which means the book, in short, wholeheartedly deserves a space on your bookshelf. Owners of the hardback copy may want to seek out the paperback for a new chapter, Everything I know at thirty , which Dolly describes as having been “a total joy” to put together. “I loved writing that chapter,” she says. “The thing uninterrupted. The rooms we’ve done those shows in have felt really magical: there’s normally thousands of women and one begrudging husband,” she laughs. One of the most appealing aspects of Everything I know about love is the honest documentation of both peaks
and pitfalls of the modern experience. “It’s the journey of a woman getting older and realising what’s important in life,” Dolly says. “It’s exposing the journey of self and growing up, and the mistakes we make, and the things that we come to realise are what matters, and the things that don’t – and that means there are going to be uncomfortable chapters. I’m against the idea that when women are on the page or screen they have to be bastions of puritanism, and always behave in this exemplary, compassionate, well-mannered and beautiful way – that’s just not how life goes. I don’t know any 21 year old that
that no one tells you is that you write a book because you love writing, and then you publish a book and you’re basically not allowed to write, because you’re doing Woman’s Hour, or interviews with charming journalists from Cambridge, or you’re doing tours, or promotion – and all these opportunities come up that are nothing to do with writing. It amazes me how little of my life I spend writing now: I feel like every day, my life is a battle to push stuff back so that I can do what I love doing, what makes me happy, which is writing.” Dolly finished writing her book two years ago, and now feels as though it’s
“It does turn into a bit of group therapy”
wasn’t a bit of a twat.” Dolly continues: “With women, we always talk about transgressions as evidence of poor morality or self- indulgence, but what we don’t leave room for is what we leave so much room for when we’re talking about male flâneurs or anarchists or bon viveurs. “First of all, life is really hard, and life is difficult when you go from childhood to adulthood, and you have to face the reality of what this experience is going to be until the day you die, and the way a lot of us cope with that is in oblivion. If you’re not an addict and you’re not harming
from a different life. “I think that’s just the nature of your 20s: it feels like dog years, to borrow a metaphor from Nora Ephron,” she says. “The difference between a 21 year old and a 26 year old is just enormous. I already feel like I would have written it so differently. I’m still so proud of the book, of course, but it just feels like such a long time ago. I got the [paperback] proofs through and it’s like a different woman’s writing this new final chapter.” When she comes to Cambridge, Dolly will be sharing the Corn Exchange’s stage with writer and director Lauren Bensted, her best friend and former teenage bandmate.
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