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Good Material by Dolly Alderton
Literary fiction

Good Material

by Dolly Alderton

Excellent choice

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Quick take

A stand-up comedian tries to find insight and humor in the disastrous end of his relationship with the woman he loves.

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Andy loves Jen. Jen loved Andy. And he can’t work out why she stopped.

Now he is. . .

Without a home

Waiting for his stand-up career to take off

Wondering why everyone else around him seems to have grown up while he wasn’t looking

Set adrift on the sea of heartbreak, Andy clings to the idea of solving the puzzle of his ruined relationship. Because if he can find the answer to that, then maybe Jen can find her way back to him. But Andy still has a lot to learn, not least his ex-girlfriend’s side of the story…

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Good Material.
Good Material


Can’t dance. Has no rhythm at all. Used to find it adorable until I saw people laughing at her and hate to say I was embarrassed.

Once overheard her say “Let’s grab a cappuccino some time and we’ll talk” to my teenage cousin who wanted advice about his university applications.

Generally has quite nineties ideas about what is glamorous, like cocktails or spending twenty pounds on a plate of tagliatelle in a “little place.”

Refuses to get to the airport a minute earlier than ninety minutes before a flight takes off.

Don’t have to persuade her to like where we live any more.

When she would go for a run in the evening she would come into the living room, stretch in front of the TV and say “What’s this?” and make me explain the programme I was watching even though she knew what it was, just to make a point that she was exercising while I was watching Help, I’m a Hoarder!

Talked too much and too smugly about coming from a big family, as if it was her decision to have three siblings.

Always used to boast about how she’d reject an OBE if it were offered to her because of her apparent lefty republican values but would never know why she’d be offered an OBE in this fantasy when I asked her.

Would definitely never reject an OBE if it were offered to her.

Would take an hour to go to bed, no matter what time she got in, because she’d do a seven-step skincare routine, browse shopping apps and listen to podcasts. And yet only left twenty minutes from her alarm going off to having to leave the flat in the morning.

Always late for me, never late for work.

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Why I love it

Modern dating. With these two words, you have the power to terrify entire generations of people (me, included). If there’s one thing to get you through it, it’s commiserating with your friends (and reading excellent novels). Good Material captures the conflicting feelings of modern-day love in adulthood beautifully, hilariously, and honestly.

We meet Andy at his nadir—he’s been broken up with by the only woman he’s ever loved. He insists, out of the blue. At 35, the comedian struggles to pick himself back up again. He takes to self-destructive habits and remains obsessed with his ex. We follow Andy through his healing process, as he gains and loses progress time and time again. While there’s plenty of heartbreak in this book, there’s also plenty of humor. We watch as Andy moves in with his delightfully old landlord, picks up comedy again, and even tries to re-enter the dating world. Andy’s voice is raw, sharp, and witty, and will leave you remembering just how bad heartbreak feels. But as everyone in his life keeps telling him, doesn’t it make for good material?

Dolly Alderton depicts the human experience with painful accuracy. She will leave you both laughing and crying—and reminding yourself, in the end, that you’re doing just fine. This book will pull your darkest emotions out of you but leave you feeling hopeful in the end. It’s a transformative experience, and I insist you take it on.

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Member ratings (461)

  • Kate Z.

    New York, NY

    I’m a fan of the dialogue and witty writing style. The beginning of the book felt long, but without realizing it I went from being annoyed by every character to caring about them so much by the end.

  • Alex B.

    Lawrenceville, NJ

    I’ve never disliked a main character more than I dislike Andy and his whining, but yet I still kept on turning the pages. This is a unique story on heartbreak from a male POV and I oddly enjoyed it.

  • Amy H.

    Iowa City, IA

    I enjoyed Andy and Jen as characters I want as friends. Both sides are reasonabke abs I could feel their heartbreak. My one criticism is that there is an anti-man theme in several female characters.

  • Holly B.

    Marcola , OR

    Even though I’m a happily married woman, I I know I would be a happy single person as well. I loved this book for championing the idea that a woman doesn’t need a man or children to be happy.

  • Corissa M.

    Nashville, TN

    A masterpiece. I devoured this book in a little more than a day. Excellent writing, humor, complex characters. One of the best male POVs I’ve ever read- I found both Andy and Jen so relatable.

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