Writers & Lovers (2020) by Lily King – Fiction
Writers & Lovers captures the feeling that any writer, or aspiring writer or creator, has felt when attempting to put pen to paper or brush to canvas, or note to musical staff. It is fear. The reason that we procrastinate is not because we cannot write. We can create words and we can “write” them on the piece of paper or type them out. But we obfuscate and we find ways not to do that exact thing. We are afraid it is going to suck.
Casey, a 31-year-old writer and waitress is attempting finish her first novel. It has taken her six years. In those six years, we learn her mother has died unexpectedly. The man she fell head over heels in love with left her, and surprised her by hiding that he was in fact, while separated, still married. Casey is lost and Lily King is able to capture that loneliness and despair at its peak. We have all felt it. We are creatively at a roadblock and we personally can’t find meaning in the relationships we have.
While Casey is battling herself in finishing her novel, she is also being torn between two men. Each represent different qualities she admires but offer different places for her to reside. Oscar is an accomplished writer and widow with two young boys and Casey feels at home with them, a family awaits. Silas is a loner like her and a wanderer. While he offers her more independence, he also appears like a liability, someone who wanders off without communicating why.
I tell them the truth. I tell them I am thirty-one years old and seventy-three thousand dollars in debt. I tell them that since college I’ve moved eleven times, and seventeen jobs and several relationships that didn’t work out. I’ve been estranged from my father since twelfth grade, and earlier this year my mother died. My only sibling lives three thousand miles away. What I have had for the past six years, what has been constant and steady in my life is the novel I’ve been writing. This has been my home, the place I could always retreat to. The place I could sometimes even feel powerful, I tell them.
I enjoyed the novel immensely. It has all the makings of a big-screen film. It is short, a little over 300 pages but offers a lot of thought and heart with the character of Casey. She is relatable at multiple levels, even if you aren’t an aspiring writer. King writes in a very free flow way. The characters interact very whimsically and understated. A break-up lasts only for a few sentences. This is not always my preferred writing style, but I enjoyed King’s ability and she didn’t let the characters feel cold or distant.
King never falters in making sure the reader is rooting for Casey to succeed. Casey is taking a gamble, following her creative passions with the insurmountable odds against her. The reader is pushing for her to reach a level of success in her writing, while the love plot simmers in the background.
Lily King is the author of five novels. Her novel Euphoria (2014), was the winner of The New England Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times Book Review.
Lover of the written word.