Book Talk: Writers & Lovers: A Novel by Lily King

" 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.

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About the Book

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.

Reviews and What Readers Say

“ It is difficult becoming an adult, at times, and in particular when you are in your 30’s. Not settled, no profession of means, no permanent relationship, no offspring, just a muddle. Casey feels all of this and more. Full of debt that grows larger everyday, a job as a waitress, living in a potting shed, and writing a novel that is just taking forever.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.”

—Prisorb, TOP 50 Reviewer Choice, Amazon Reader's Review

“ Writers & Lovers is not a light read or a beach read. It is clearly literary fiction and the intended audience is people who are literary themselves. With that being said, it can come off a little pretentious. It is slow moving because it is much more focused on character development and literary elements than on a fast-paced plot. However, that doesn't mean it isn't a good read. For me, it was a satisfying read, but it probably won't be one of my favorites of the year.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.”

—Jen C. VINE VOICE, Amazon Reader's Review

“ I Kindled this the day it came out and now that I've finished I can finally resume my life, reluctant though I may be to leave this congenial narrator and her finely rendered world. This is literary fiction of the best kind, not bogged down in overwrought sentences or hyper-emotionalism. The prose is clear and concise and the relationships between Casey and the two writers in her life are finely drawn. Her monetary woes and the death of her mother (we know from the start) and the problems with her father are believable and not sentimentalized. The setting is Boston, and you feel like you're there, but her descriptions are always on point and never gratuitous. But mostly, I just liked the whole deal! Lily King is a smart writer and made me feel like a smart reader. ” —JQuindaro, Amazon Reader's Review

“ Let’s just get right to it. I loved Writers & Lovers! It’s my favorite book so far this year and I can say with confidence that Lily King’s novel will be making an appearance on my Best Books of 2020 list. Rather than sum up what this book is about, I’m going to share the many reasons why I liked it so very much.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.” —Susie, Amazon Reader's Review

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Writers & Lovers: A Novel by Lily King

336 pages

ISBN 978-0802148544

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Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country and abroad.

Lily’s first novel, The Pleasing Hour (1999) won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and was a New York Times Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her second, The English Teacher, was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year, a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, and the winner of the Maine Fiction Award. Her third novel, Father of the Rain (2010), was a New York Times Editors Choice, a Publishers Weekly Best Novel of the Year and winner of both the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Maine Fiction Award. Lily's new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, being named an Amazon Book of the Month, on the Indie Next List, and hitting numerous summer reading lists from The Boston Globe to O Magazine and USA Today. Reviewed on the cover of The New York Times, Emily Eakin called Euphoria, “a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace.”

Lily is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Writer's Award. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines including Ploughshares and Glimmer Train, as well as in several anthologies.