Dolly Alderton’s New Novel Mines The Hellscape That Is Heartbreak



In 1983 Nora Ephron wrote the ultimate break-up novel Heartburn. Based on the dissolution of her own marriage, Ephron aimed to “convert an event that seemed to me hideously tragic at the time to a comedy.” Exactly 40 years later, British writer Dolly Alderton has done this same thing. Inspired by her own heartbreak after a painful break-up, she embarked on Good Material. “I took one of the worst years of my life and made something funny out of it,” she told The Times in a recent interview.

But where Alderton has flipped the script is by making her narrator not some Bridget Jones’ type with permanently smudged mascara and a penchant for gulping wine, but a man named Andy. A man who, post-break-up, visits prosecco bars at 10 in the morning and can’t stop listening to Bon Iver. It must be said that when he’s not waiting for pubs to open or stalking his ex-girlfriend on Instagram, he’s the kind of guy who puts his friends’ kids to bed and tries his hardest to be vulnerable with his blokey mates. It’s hard not to like him.

It’s not as though heartbreak has never been explored from the male perspective before (pop culture has been obsessed with High Fidelity for decades now after all), but it is a welcome reminder that complicated emotions aren’t a gendered experience so much as a human one. Also, Alderton clearly got the memo about no more sad girl books.

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