Skip to main content

The Only Book You Need to Read This Year: Good Material by Dolly Alderton

Review by Freya Bennett

Good Material by Dolly Alderton was a gift from my sister-in-law who has impeccable taste when it comes to books. I had been meaning to read Dolly for some time, so was eager to kick off my fiction reads of the year with her second novel.

Reading books when deep in newborn life is an interesting task. I steal a few pages while balancing a bottle or at 2am before desperately trying to get a few hours’ sleep. Fortunately, Dolly’s writing is so effortless, her storytelling so beautifully simple, that it wasn’t difficult to sneak in a page or two without losing track of the narrative.

I was surprised when I discovered the protagonist was male, but Dolly writes Andy so brilliantly that I soon forgot I was even reading a book – Dolly is Andy, and thus, with her choice of first-person narrative, we become Andy.

Andy, a stagnating comedian, is 35 and has just been dumped by his girlfriend of three years, Jen. He moves in with their mutual friends, Jane and Avi and their boys until he can find a new place to live. Following the typical post-breakup trajectory, Andy indulges in excessive drinking, joins a gym, adopts a low-carb diet, obsessively stalks Jen and her new boyfriend, overanalyses every aspect of their relationship, briefly dates a much younger girl, guiltily ends the relationship, and finally, returns home for a visit with his mum.

An absolute treat of a character emerges in the form of 78-year-old Morris, with whom Andy moves in after a failed attempt at a bachelor life on a barge. The interactions between Andy and Morris are both hilarious and moving, making Morris the ideal post-breakup companion for Andy.

Despite the absence of a grand plot, “Good Material” proves to be a page-turner. Dolly possesses the rare ability to capture the essence of everyday life. Choosing the common theme of a breakup, she crafts a charming, relatable story that she so skilfully concludes in 341 pages.

Each character despite their idiosyncrasies, is likable. The novel concludes with a perfect ending which Dolly remarkably achieves without succumbing to a clichéd, overly cheerful conclusion.

Freya Bennett

Freya Bennett is the Co-Founder and Director of Ramona Magazine. She is a writer and editor from Dja Dja Wurrung Country who loves grey days, libraries and dandelion tea. You can follow her on Instagram @freya___bennett

Leave a Reply