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Writers & Lovers: A Novel Paperback – February 16, 2021
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"I loved this book not just from the first chapter or the first page but from the first paragraph... The voice is just so honest and riveting and insightful about creativity and life." —Curtis Sittenfeld
An extraordinary new novel of art, love, and ambition from Lily King, the New York Times bestselling author of Euphoria
Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with another instant New York Times bestseller: 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.
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Praise for Writers & Lovers:
New York Times Bestseller
New England Society's Book Award for Fiction
Named one of The Best Fiction Books of 2020 by Kirkus
One of Washington Post's 10 Best Books of 2020
TODAY SHOW'S #READWITHJENNA MARCH SELECTION
EMMA ROBERTS' BELLETRIST BOOK CLUB APRIL SELECTION
A New York Times Book Review’s Group Text Selection
Amazon Spotlight Selection
Indie Next Pick
Named one of The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 by Entertainment Weekly
Named one of 41 Best Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020 by Vogue
Named one of 19 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020 by The Amazon Book Review
Named one of The 2020 Books You Should Pre-Order Now by Marie Claire
Named one of 32 Best New Books of 2020 by Vulture
Named one of The Best New Books in Pick of the Week by People
Named One of Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2020
“[A] comic and compassionate novel… It shares with [Euphoria] a fascination with the difficulty of defining the worth of one’s life when the familiar markers of adult achievement are slow to materialize. With wit and what reads like deep insider wisdom, Ms. King captures the chronic low-level panic of taking a leap into the artsy unknown and finding yourself adrift, without land or rescue in sight.” —Maureen Corrigan, Wall Street Journal
"I loved this book not just from the first chapter or the first page but from the first paragraph... The voice is just so honest and riveting and insightful about creativity and life." —Curtis Sittenfeld, London Evening Standard
“[D]elightful… [A]n unmistakable broadside against fiction’s love affair with macho strivers, even — or especially — when layers of lyricism and tenderness coat their machismo. The emotional force of Writers & Lovers is considerable…" —New York Times Book Review
“Romance isn’t the point for Casey. Love is the gravy; words are the filet. Finding a way to build a life around work she loves, finding a way to support herself as a writer — this is the line connecting all three corners of the love triangle at the heart of this novel.” —New York Times Book Review, Group Text Book Club
“This smooth, deliberate chronicle of creation keeps the men in their place and Casey firmly rooted at the center of her own story. Instead of casting her as a woman torn between archetypes of male creativity, Writers & Lovers portrays her as a woman in thrall to her own generative processes, a devotee to the art of (her own) attention.” —Los Angeles Times
“Among the elements that make Writers & Lovers so winning are the perfectly calibrated little details, convincing conversations, and droll wit…. Writers & Lovers is a book about passion, desire, grief, determination, and finding one's way. It's also about craving love, family, and success… generously infused with heart and soul and wit and wisdom.” —NPR
“Wonderful, witty, heartfelt… Writers & Lovers is a funny novel about grief, and, worse, it’s dangerously romantic, bold enough and fearless enough to imagine the possibility of unbounded happiness.” —Washington Post
“King has created a woman on the cusp of personal fulfillment and strong enough to stand on her own, someone akin to Sally Rooney’s Frances in Conversations with Friends... But King also situates Casey inside a variation of the which-lover-will-she-choose framework of, say, Nancy Meyers’s film Something’s Gotta Give... The novel is a meditation on trying itself: to stay alive, to love, to care. That point feels so fresh, so powerfully diametrically opposed to the readily available cynicism we’ve been feasting on... King wants us to keep trying, through whatever means necessary, to beat the odds.” —Boston Globe
“[A] poignant and heartfelt novel about the effects of grief and the paths people take to get through life. I couldn’t put the book down…” —Seattle Times
“This novel will become a defining classic for struggling young writers.”—Vulture
"King captures the agita of an early-life crisis and the eccentricities of a writer’s life, spiking the narrative with wit, sumptuous imagery and hilarious skewerings of literary elitism." —People
“King leaves no barrier between readers and smart, genuine, cynical, and funny Casey. A closely observed tale of finding oneself, and one's voice, while working through grief.”—Booklist (starred review)
"[A] charmingly written coming of age story." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[I]ntimate and vulnerable... Lily King's novel follows a deeply relatable protagonist navigating a whole menu of crises surrounded by a cast of genuine, vivid characters... the book occupies a small space, but packs it to the brim with humanity." —Entertainment Weekly
“[A] down-to-earth saga of an extremely bright and likable single woman wrestling with sexual desires, emotional dreads… an engaging portrait of a woman confronting modern hardships.” —Associated Press
“King has portrayed effectively and compassionately with well-crafted prose, evocative descriptions, and spot-on dialogue.” —New York Journal of Books
"[F]unny and romantic and hard to put down, full of well-observed details of restaurant culture and writer's workshops. It's hard to imagine a reader who wouldn't root for Casey." —Library Journal (starred review)
"A knowing look at the pursuit of a life in the arts, with a protagonist you'll root for." —Marie Claire
“Elegant… The nimble, astute narration appeals. This meditation on the passing of youth is touching and ruefully funny.” —Publishers Weekly
“King is one of those rare writers who can entwine sadness, hilarity and burning fury in the briefest of moments.” —BookPage
“[A]n extraordinary novel… King beautifully documents every aspect of Casey’s character. Casey’s insights into the world of writing are fascinating nd often humorous…. The prose [is] linguistically sophisticated, clean and uncluttered.” —Midwest Book Review
“Seemingly light and breezy, the novel has an impressively steely core… Writers & Lovers has one of the most completely satisfying endings around, both surprising and solidly in character.” —Columbus Dispatch
“[R]emarkably funny… full of moments of keen observation, of wry remarks about the challenges of writing and the awkwardness of early love.” —Bookreporter
“Writers & Lovers made me happy. Even as the narrator grieves the loss of her mother and struggles to make art and keep a roof over her head, the novel is suffused with hopefulness and kindness. Lily King writes with a great generosity of spirit." —Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House
“Lily King is one of our great literary treasures and Writers & Lovers is suffused with her brilliance. It is captivating, potent, incisive, and wise, a moving story of grief, and recovering from grief, and of a young woman finding her courage for life.” —Madeline Miller, author of Circe
“Gorgeous!” —Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge
"Writers & Lovers is a portrait of the artist as a young woman. Lily King writes masterfully about desire and loss, creativity and inspiration, and how each overlaps and influences the other. I found myself reading slowly, underlining phrases, wanting to linger in the world of this novel. Her insights about love — how it is elusive and ineffable — and about grief — how it is something that you live inside — took my breath away.” —Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World
“Writers & Lovers stole my heart from its first pages. I am in love with this book. In. Love. This deep dive of a novel will stay with me forever.” —Elin Hilderbrand, author of Summer of ‘69
“My favourite of Lily King’s books so far. Exuberant and affirming, it’s funny and immensely clever, emotionally rare and strong. I feel bereft now I've finished.” —Tessa Hadley, author of Late In The Day
"If you loved The Friend but wish it had had more sex and waitressing, get ready for Lily King’s Writers and Lovers. Delicious.” —Emma Straub
Praise for Euphoria:
“Taut, witty, fiercely intelligent… King is brilliant.” —New York Times Book Review
“Intense, seductive, sexual, and intellectual… There are so many exhilarating elements to savor in Euphoria… Brava to Lily King.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“As concentrated as orchid food, packing as much narrative power and intellectual energy into its 250 pages as novels triple its size.” —Newsday
“Atmospheric and sensual… An intellectually stimulating tour de force.” —NPR
Praise for Father of the Rain:
“Surprising and wise…An absorbing, insightful story written in cool, polished prose right to the last conflicted line.” —Washington Post
“King is a beautiful writer, with equally strong gifts for dialogue and internal monologue.” —New York Times Book Review
“Haunting, incisive…King is brilliant.” —Elle
“An excellent novel, sensitive and perceptive.” —Chicago Tribune
- Publisher : Grove Press; Reprint edition (February 16, 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0802148549
- ISBN-13 : 978-0802148544
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 1 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2020
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Casey aka Camila, lives near Boston, commutes to her waitress job in Boston on her banana bike. She has friends, a jerk for a landlord and her book. She tries not to think too much about her top three worries, her mother’s recent death, her huge student loans, and the man she met this summer, a married poet who swept her off her feet. While she is involved in the grief she feels from her mother’s death, she is trying to live, to be kind and care about others, without her need to hide all the feelings. Everything around her feels the cynicism, that is the way to make it through the day.
This novel by Lily King is fresh, vibrant, the characters leap off the page. In this day of digital devices, it is refreshing to have a young woman finding her way with every mistake she makes, but holding onto her dreams. She wants love, a family, but her grief and her uncertainty are holding her back. Casey has two lovers, a promise of a better job, and must make decisions. She is aware of her peccadilloes, and, in this way she is learning her craft. Her writing carries her, and her friends and her work reinforce this need. She has to write she says not because she thinks she has something to say. She writes because when she doesn’t everything feels worse. This is not nothing.
Recommended. prisrob 03-03-2020
It took me a while to get into, but I did find myself invested in it. I wanted Casey to get her life together and have her dreams come true. Now that she is in her thirties, most of her friends have given up on their creative passions and pursued more "normal" careers and lives. Along the way, Casey writes and falls in and out of love with other writers and struggles to deal with the grief of losing her mother suddenly. So, it felt like a book for an audience of writers and other creative artists.
I feel like this one quote from the book sums up the whole book itself: "It's really a book about art and becoming an artist and all the ways it ruins people, actually."
King’s Storytelling – I’ve seen some call it uneven, but I didn’t see that. From start to finish I was captivated by Casey’s story and fully immersed in Lily King’s gorgeous writing.
Grief – In the story, Casey (already estranged from her father) has recently lost her mother and King’s exploration of her grief resonated throughout the story. She made me ache for Casey’s loss.
“I might still be capable of feeling happy. She will want to know that. But I can’t tell her. That’s the wall I always slam into on a good morning like this. My mother will be worrying about me, and I can’t tell her I’m okay.”
“During the day I miss the novel. I’ve lost access to a world where my mother is a little girl reading in a window or twirling in fast circles on the street, her braids raised high off her back. Outside of that novel she is dead. There seems no end to the procession of things that make my mother feel more dead.”
“I’m in the mood to call my mother, that happy shift in the wind mood. I calculate the time in Phoenix. Nearly noon. Perfect. The bolt retracts, and I remember she died.“
The Writing Process – I enjoyed getting to know a character that had been completely consumed by the creative process for years. To her own financial and personal detriment, Casey could not let go. I also appreciated how self-aware Casey was, constantly questioning herself and where her life was going, yet through it all, she kept at it.
Relationships – In the past, Casey has been involved with men who were never quite right for her. As Writer’s & Lovers unfolds she meets two very different men, both writers like herself, each adding a layer of confusion to her life.
“It’s a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone.”
Cast of Characters – I thoroughly enjoyed the entire group of characters that moved in and out of Casey’s life and I especially enjoyed those at the restaurant where she worked.
The Ending – Casey’s crisis point and its resolution worked for me. I even got a little teary at the end.
From start to finish, I delighted living in Casey’s world, watching the evolution of a young writer on the brink of change. Obviously, I highly recommend Writers & Lovers.
Note: I received a copy of this book from Grove Press (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review.
Top reviews from other countries
There's something cold about Writers & Lovers, slight and insubstantial. The writing is occasionally quite good, with some amusingly sparky dialogue, but the novel never takes off, the characters a mere watercolor shadow of what they could be. At no point during the novel did I find myself caring what happened to Casey or indeed to any other characters apart from Harry and the two young boys, who were written with the charm that the others lacked.
I really wanted to love this book, and I really was excited when it finally came out - I've been waiting a long time for Lily King's next book - so I admit my expectations were high. Unfortunately, they were ultimately disappointed.