Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
A smart, sexy, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy about ex-boyfriends, imperfect parents, friends with kids, and a man who disappears the moment he says “I love you.”
Nina Dean is not especially bothered that she’s single. She owns her own apartment, she’s about to publish her second book, she has a great relationship with her ex-boyfriend, and enough friends to keep her social calendar full and her hangovers plentiful. And when she downloads a dating app, she does the seemingly impossible: She meets a great guy on her first date. Max is handsome and built like a lumberjack; he has floppy blond hair and a stable job. But more surprising than anything else, Nina and Max have chemistry. Their conversations are witty and ironic, they both hate sports, they dance together like fools, they happily dig deep into the nuances of crappy music, and they create an entire universe of private jokes and chemical bliss.
But when Max ghosts her, Nina is forced to deal with everything she’s been trying so hard to ignore: her father’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and so is her mother’s denial of it; her editor hates her new book idea; and her best friend from childhood is icing her out. Funny, tender, and eminently, movingly relatable, Ghosts is a whip-smart tale of relationships and modern life.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton is a romantic comedy that was a big surprise to me. I expected a light, fluffy read but what I experienced is a much different kind of romantic comedy – one that is full of deep insight, witty conversations, and intelligent, focused narration. My favorite insight had to be comparing how single guys approach dating, how they play video games and the remarkable similarities between the two.
At first, I didn’t care for the main character, Nina George Dean, or her mother, Mandy/Nancy Dean. Still, as the story progressed and the narration pulled me deeper into their feelings and motivations, my awareness of their individual struggles became poignantly honest. I had to acknowledge that their responses are 100% human, as different people handle situations in different ways. Their reactions are insightful and just their particular manner of coping.
Ghosts is a welcome to surprise in a genre full of light, funny stories. It tackles big topics, such as online dating, a parent/spouse with Alzheimer’s, and the changing of adult friendships as we each enter different phases. I loved the deep insights brought out with witty banter and a deep level of character development. If you are looking for a romantic comedy that can make you laugh and reflect, this is one you will not want to miss!
The Long-Lost Jules by Jane Elizabeth Hughes
She thinks he’s either a stalker, a nutcase, or a harmlessly eccentric Oxford professor. He thinks she’s the long-lost descendant of Henry VIII’s last Queen, Katherine Parr. Amy is living a cautious life as a London private banker to wealthy oil sheikhs, but her quiet solitude is upended by the sudden appearance of two people: a half-sister who is virtually a stranger to her, and Oxford don Leo. Both need something from Amy, who has been emotionally frozen for years and isn’t sure she has anything left to give. She also harbors deep secrets—as does Leo. Even so, the two join forces to investigate the mystery of Queen Katherine’s lost baby, and soon long-suppressed emotions start to surface—and enemies start to close in. As they crisscross Europe in a quest for answers, Amy and Leo find themselves in danger of losing control of their secrets, their hearts—and maybe even their lives.
I’m trying out a new review format below. There will be tweaks to it, I’m sure. If it’s unreadable in WP Reader, be sure to click on the little internet globe in the top right hand corner and see it the web format.
What I Loved
The Long-Lost Jules is an exhilarating adventure to solve a mystery that dates back to Tudor England and King Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr. The historical plot thread is so fascinating to me. Genealogy, research, mystery, motivations are all aspects of this thread and are such a fun and enjoyable piece of the story.
The unpredictable twists and turns are my favorite part of the novel, though. They are shockingly fun and kept those pages turning. Of course, I can’t tell you which twist is my favorite, but I do have one, and it is deliciously unexpected and changed the story from a fascinating tale to one I adored.
The story’s conclusion is a fresh take on what otherwise would have been a fairly predictable conclusion. I love the fun twists and the explosion of possibilities each gives to the story beyond the confines of the covers.
What I Wish
Though I love the main characters, Amy and Leo, and understand that keeping various aspects of each secret is an essential part of the surprise twists, I still would have liked just a touch more development and, relatedly, development of the romance. I loved how the romance concludes, and I didn’t mind the back and forth, but I never fully understood them as a couple – what each brings, what they see in one another, and other elements in that same vein.
Amy and Leo are the two main characters with Amy being the lead protagonist. I started to describe them and realized by doing so I’m giving away spoilers. Is that crazy or what? But that’s how riddled with secrets this story is that even the lead characters are, for the most part, a secret waiting to be revealed as the story unfolds. But I can say this: Leo Schlumberger is a historian who works at Oxford University and his research into a Katherine Parr heir has led him straight to Amy. The question is – will this mousy financial planner help Leo find the daring and adventurous Jules (Juliette) Mary Seymour that he seeks?
Reminds Me Of
It gave me very vague The DaVinci Code vibes. It doesn’t have all the wonderful puzzles of the DaVinci Codes, but it is a mystery solved by unearthing historical artifacts until you find out the answer. Like DaVinci Codes, there is plenty of action and adventure.
To Read or Not to Read
I would highly recommend this story if you like action, adventure, and the thrills that come with that. I would also highly recommend it if you are as fascinated with Tudor England as I am. The Long-Lost Jules is one of my big surprise exceptional reads of the summer.