Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.
A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.
Thank you to Penguin for having me as part of this blog tour and for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
To be completely blunt, I wasn’t 100 percent sure this was going to be a book I enjoyed. I have read some brilliant adult contemporaries in the past few years, but I’ve also read a few I didn’t enjoy at all. And this sounded in some ways similar to the one’s I didn’t enjoy as much, so naturally I was a little hesitant. However, I am very happy to say I absolutely loved this book. It was bold and beautiful and confident without being abrasive or brash – striking a perfect balance that I just didn’t expect.
We follow Nina Dean, who I found to be a likable character from the second page, when she visited Hampstead Ladies Pond (I love outdoor swimming so I loved this instantly). I always find I enjoy books so much more when I actually like the main character and want the best for them – and I really did with Nina. She felt honest and relatable, a real and imperfect character with her own troubles and mistakes.
Maybe friendship is being the guardian of another person’s hope.
I found the pacing slow at first, but after around 150 pages I couldn’t put this book down and finished it the following day. The plot really picks up and I just wanted to know what happened to Nina and those around her. The writing was absolutely brilliant and may be my favourite part of the book as a whole – it was easy to read but had some real depth and honest discussions I loved reading.
There was something in the writing that just made me feel so connected to Nina, it made me cry (and I mean tears running down my cheeks!) but also made me laugh. It is so rare I find a book that makes me properly laugh, but this one did. It made me chuckle over and over again, and I applaud the writing for that! It also made my heart drop and brought a sick feeling to my stomach when certain things happened in Nina’s life that I just felt so emotional over.
I also love how this book was feminist without being men-hating. I have read books before that felt like they crossed that line and I didn’t appreciate it – Ghosts, however, appreciates both sides of a story and brings in both successful and unsuccessful relationships. It was the balance I really wanted from this book. The relationships felt so real and were another reason I felt so connected to Nina, especially the difficult relationship with her parents (it was a scene between her and her mum that made me cry).
Leave it with me and I’ll look after it for a while , if it feels too heavy for now.
This book was a really pleasant surprise and there is honestly so much to love about it. Despite the slow start I found it so engaging and brilliantly written. An emotional but funny and uplifting read all at the same time!
4.5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽