Reviews for Good Material

by Dolly Alderton

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A struggling 35-year-old British comedian navigates a breakup with his long-term girlfriend. With unmissable echoes of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, Alderton examines Andy Dawson’s excruciating inability to accept the fact that Jen Hammersmith no longer wants to be with him, which leads to various self-destructive behaviors—drinking before noon, cyber-stalking Jen, and embarking on a morally dubious sexual relationship with a woman in her early 20s. Andy is a man who suffers simultaneously from an enormous ego, poor self-confidence, and little self-awareness—character traits that combine to produce mortifying moments. His relationship with Avi, his long-suffering best friend, brilliantly captures the stereotypical male reluctance to express platonic love and to retreat to the pub in times of need. Andy’s mum—a single mother who isn’t keen on displays of emotion but will readily offer up a medicinal whiskey—deserves more airtime. Pep talks from a more successful comedian friend and an overzealous personal trainer provide a respite from the monotony of Andy’s misery, which begins to bore his closest friends and the reader alike. Echoing her earlier novels, Alderton examines how bewildering it can be for single people to find themselves alone in a crowd of married friends who suddenly have more pressing commitments than another pint of lager. But save for a couple of quips about Boris Johnson and the wealth disparity between Andy and Jen, the novel lacks any meaningful social commentary. The way the book makes a late switch to Jen’s perspective might remind readers of Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, but Alderton lacks Groff’s mastery and Jen’s point of view is dull. While the book is hardly original, it displays a quintessentially British sense of humor (ironic, self-effacing, coarse), and Alderton has a talent for depicting love, flaws and all. An easy read for those with a soft spot for the hopelessly doomed romantic. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.