Also by this author: Euphoria
Published by Grove Atlantic on March 3, 2020
Genres/Lists: Fiction, #30Authors
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
Lily King is back with a new novel, Writers and Lovers. Her previous book, Euphoria, is one of my favorites to recommend, so I was a bit worried about Writers and Lovers living up to my expectations. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. Set in Boston in the late 1990’s, it tells the story of Casey, a woman trying to decide what her next chapter in life will look like. Torn between pursuing her passion and pursuing stability, she struggles to find her path.
At 31, Casey is floundering both personally and professionally. A writer living in a family friend’s converted potting shed, she shirked traditional career paths after college in order to write her novel. Years later, however, she’s still struggling to finish it. Working as a waitress, she begins questioning whether she should give up her dream of becoming a published novelist and get a “real” job. This is, after all, what most of her friends had done years earlier.
Complicating matters (of course) is her personal life. Casey also finds herself caught between two men who offer two very different futures. One, an enigmatic older man, represents a life of stability, while the other, younger man offers spontaneity and uncertainty. When you toss in the fact that she’s reeling from the loss of her mother, is recovering from heartbreak, and is suffering from the effects of a traumatic incident in her adolescence, it’s clear that her journey is going to be an interesting one.
On its surface, Writers and Lovers is a familiar refrain – a woman approaching a turning point in her life when the choices she makes will pave the way for her future. Yet, King finds a way to tell it in a way that is both familiar and unique. Casey’s story is complicated, but the subtle ways in which it guides her decision-making is remarkable. It’s this subtlety that I appreciated in Euphoria, and I’m glad to see this feature made its way into her latest novel, as well.
Another quality of King’s writing that I appreciate is her uncanny ability to describe things into existence. You can see, feel, and hear the people and settings. Reading King is a sensory experience. This is especially true for the detailed descriptions of Casey’s work as a waitress – the food, the customers, and the restaurant are all brought to life. At times, however, these descriptions got a bit overwhelming and redundant. I could have gone without a few of these details without skipping a beat in the story, but it’s impossible to overlook the talent it takes to bring the scenes to life in the way King does.In Writers and Lovers, @lilykingbooks demonstrates, once again, her uncanny ability to write a story that is a true, sensory experience. Click To Tweet
What’s great about this book is that It manages to include a story line about romantic relationships without focusing on the romance, itself. Despite its title, Writers and Lovers is about Casey, the woman – not Casey, the woman with two love interests. Although she is caught between two men, their relationships are secondary to her story – important but not defining. This is refreshing because I often find that romance story lines are either non-existent, dismissed, or serve as a primary motivation for a character. This middle ground worked perfectly.
All of this is to say, reading Writers and Lovers was a wonderful experience, just as I had hoped. It takes a simple and familiar premise (two choices that will change someone’s life) and tosses in a complicated, flawed, and idealistic protagonist. It’s a reminder of how the residual effects of the past can steer your life choices, as well as how present choices reflect who you think you are versus who you want to be. Most of us can look back on our lives and recall a critical juncture, a time when a single decision would reverberate for years to come. It’s this recollection that makes Casey a sympathetic character who you want to see through to the end.
Recommended for: Readers who appreciate familiar stories told with subtle and rich descriptions.