Lily King | Fiction, 2020
Casey is 31. She is working as a waitress and has spent six years writing a novel. $72,000 in debt, she is living in a former potting shed in the Back Bay region of Boston. This is her story. Dating while being a writer is challenging – some writers won’t date other writers. Some share a passion and an ego. Casey has wonderful friends, male and female, who serve as supportive mirrors as she works to get her life together. Some reviewers call Writers & Lovers a coming-of-age novel. Coming of age at 31??? Well, actually, yes.
At first, I found the book and the writing trivial. It was so light, and so shallow to read about a young woman and her challenges with becoming an adult, finding a relationship, meaning, purpose, and success. And then I began to be pulled in. Her romances hooked me (Silas or Oscar?), and her challenges with writing were so very real. As the book progressed, I became more interested in her and more committed to discovering what she discovers. If you have any Boston in your background, you will find King’s descriptions of Boston and Cambridge delightful, as Casey travels by bicycle, so we see the river, the people, the squares, with a sense of photographic intimacy.
In addition to writing and dating, a major theme in this book is Casey’s grief over the recent death of her mother. Four of my friends/colleagues have lost their moms in the last year, and I have watched each work through their grief, with awe and intrigue. Like Casey, each experienced varying levels of sorrow, loneliness, anger, gratitude, maybe fear, and love. I have found their grief insightful and have learned from them. My mother died 41 years ago. I have yet to shed a tear or feel any sorrow over her death. Casey’s grief in this book is palatable, understandable, and educational, and for that I am grateful. I am a better person for having read this novel, with a better understanding of the possibilities for relationship between mother and daughter..
All told, I recommend Writers & Lovers: A Novel. It isn’t Herman Melville or even David Sedaris (though there is considerable humor in Writers & Lovers) but it is a book to enjoy. It will bring you hope.