Writers and Lovers by Lily King

I saw Writers and Lovers on Goodreads first, but it was Anne Bogel, host of the fantastic (and TBR list filling) podcast What Should I Read Next, that convinced me to actually sit down and read this book. Why did it take so long from the time I put it on my Goodreads TBR list to when I actually picked it up? It came out almost two years ago, and I had my eye on it from the beginning. But it was the way Anne talked about the story that made me finally sit down and read it.

Photo by Jodie Cook on Unsplash

Writers and Lovers

Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with an unforgettable portrait of an artist as a young woman.

Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, moldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.

Writers & Lovers follows Casey–a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist–in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.

Summary from Goodreads

I don’t usually have the urge to read contemporary fiction. It’s not my cup of tea. So, Writers and Lovers was already working overtime to garner my interest. There was the writing aspect. I’m always interested in books (and movies) about writers, and their lives, and how their lives intersect with their writing. For obvious reasons, I should think, but mostly because sometimes it helps to live vicariously through fictional writers. It reverts the sometimes real drudgery back into a sort of mythos, that, while false, ignites the imagination in any case.

What made me keep reading was Lily King’s writing. She made what would usually seem melodramatic or mundane, magical, or, compassionate, or, nuanced. King was empathetic and real, and Casey, in turn, drew my empathy and my real interest in her well-being and the daily goings on in her life.

Like I said, there are things about the contemporary fiction genre I’m not fond of, and if Writers and Lovers had a different writer, with a different story inside of them, I might have put the book down. But, by the time I read the last page, not only was I relating to Casey, and rooting for her, I was sharing in her victory and inspiration. Reading this book made me want to write more than I already do.

My favorite thing about this story is how King wove the writing of Casey’s own novel into the threads of Casey’s life. How she explored how the other things going on in your life can be a roadblock to your writing, and how she wrote Casey making that breakthrough, was a journey in and of itself, even if the character rarely left her usual haunts. I loved this journey, for more reasons than I can verbalize here. Let’s just say, this hit me where it hurts.

Another favorite of the techniques that King exhibited was how she made Casey so believable, that even after I felt some strong reservations about a certain side character, I believed along with Casey when she gave him a chance. And I was almost as upset when . . . well, I won’t give it away.

So, yes, I enjoyed this book outside of my usual genres, shedding real tears along the way, laughing out loud at some passages, and relating in a way that made me think deep thoughts about my life.

Writers and Lovers, a contemporary fiction I would highly recommend.

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