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Writers & Lovers

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2020)
Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with 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 fulfil 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.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published March 3, 2020

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About the author

Lily King

78 books4,119 followers
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 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 Book Review, Emily Eakin called Euphoria, “a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace.”

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 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.

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5 stars
41,260 (34%)
4 stars
50,191 (41%)
3 stars
23,160 (19%)
2 stars
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1 star
1,143 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 15,311 reviews
Profile Image for Kat.
260 reviews79.2k followers
September 7, 2021
I could definitely argue that the wonderfulness in Writers and Lovers, and the sheer range of emotions it made me feel, cannot be summed up in one swift review. Instead, I'll just tell you to get your ass in gear and read this while I marinate in the awesome; then we can all scream at the sky about it together when you finish. Sound good?
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 16 books1,483 followers
July 29, 2020
Wow! Wow! That’s two “Wows, readers stand up and take notice. I can say with great confidence that I have found my favorite book of 2020. And that’s saying something.
First a little editorial comment; the story is based on the trials and tribulations of a writer, a topic to which I can easily relate. Smooth, elegant prose I loved it. Thrillers and mysteries have much steeper story arcs that help hold the reader in the fictive dream. The arc in this book is all but nonexistent. The evolution of the character and the author’s wonderful prose hold the reader spellbound and help disguise the structure actually makes it disappear. This is difficult to accomplish, and this author makes it look easy.
The prose, the voice, the characterization makes this book the kind that becomes a comfortable old friend and stays with you forever. I can’t say that about too many books. This, after the point of view character (and the author by proxy) disparages one my favorite books/author--All the Pretty Horses. Writers and Lovers is about a 31yr. woman trying to find her way in life while dealing with writing, work, her angst over the dead mother and her relationships. None of these things take center stage and all are balanced equally. Well done. The conflicts all come together at the end in a very satisfying conclusion.
David Putnam Author of The Bruno Johnson Series.
Profile Image for Ron Charles.
1,024 reviews48.4k followers
March 5, 2020
Please don’t do this. Don’t write a novel about trying to write a novel. It’s cliche and insular and lazy. Just don’t do it.

Unless it’s this novel — this wonderful, witty, heartfelt novel by Lily King called “Writers & Lovers.”

“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. According to the penal code of literary fiction, that’s a violation of Section 364, Prohibiting Unlawful Departure from Ambiguity and Despair.

The narrator is Casey, a 31-year-old woman clinging to her dream of a creative life after all her MFA friends have settled down, married up and sold out. One by one, they’ve succumbed to law or engineering school. A promising writer she used to room with has become a real estate agent, but she tries to convince Casey that she still uses “her imagination when she walked through the houses and invented a new life for her clients.” Rest in peace, dear friend.

When the novel opens in the 1990s, Casey is living alone in. . . .

To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,277 reviews2,213 followers
May 1, 2020
This is an introspective, intimate story of a woman coming into her own, a struggling writer, struggling to figure out her life. We meet Casey Peabody in 1997 in Cambridge, MA. She’s a mess, grieving the loss of her mother, burdened financially with over $70,000 in student loans and other debt, working as a waitress and living in a rented, mold smelling shed. She’s been struggling for six years to write a novel. Her romantic life is unsteady, reeling from a breakup and now unsure of which of the two the men in her life she should be with.

I had anxiety reading this! Nothing was going right for this woman. She even faces some medical issues, yet no matter what, she remains determined and true to herself. There is just something so genuine and likable about her. Her pompous landlord asks how her writing is coming and says,”I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say.” I found his comment to be extraordinary and not in a good way. Who with an iota of empathy would say such a thing? A big jerk! She doesn’t respond but as narrator she tells the reader , “ I don’t write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don’t, everything feels even worse.” That says so much about the artistic drive, or need or yearning.

A writer writing about a writer - can’t help but wonder how much is autobiographical. I can’t help but think that Lily King knows intimately about why Casey writes, why she is determined in spite of everything. The writing is impeccable. I felt the grief and the sadness and the uncertainty of Casey’s feelings about her romantic interests. I’m not a writer or an artist in any way, but King allowed me get a glimpse of that creative need. I was rooting for Casey all the way. I can’t say I expected the ending. I really wasn’t sure how it would end,but I know that I loved it.

(I’m embarrassed to say that this is my first Lily King book. Embarrassed because my Goodreads friend Candi gifted me a copy of Euphoria as part of a book exchange a few years ago and I still have not read it! It’s been on my nightstand for too long. I enjoyed King’s writing so much here, I really need to get to it. Promise, Candi,)

I received a copy of this book from Grove Press through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.8k followers
June 23, 2022
How do you give a five star rating?

For me, it's a combination. It's a little bit how I felt about a book while I was reading it, but it's mostly how I feel about it after. If I'm unable to stop thinking about it: five stars. If it leaves a mark on my brain I can't shake: five stars. If it changes the way I think, even if it's a subtle tone shift, even if it doesn't last very long: five stars.

This is why most of my five star ratings come out of books I initially four starred, or four-point-five starred, or refused to rate.

Because in the other case, I five star a book impulsively based on how much I liked reading it, but I don't come out of it thinking much at all.

Like in the case of this.

I couldn't put this book down. It's beautifully written, I connected with our protagonist hard, I adored the setting (BOSTON I LOVE YOU!), it ate me up while I read it. And for a day or so after, I did wish I was still reading it, because I am constantly in search of that feeling. It's why I read so much. (Too much, you could say, if you wanted to give my branding a boost. #emmareadstoomuch)

But now, a month later (exactly!), I'm left not feeling much. I remember this book, sure, but in the way you remember a conversation you had a few weeks ago or a mundane dream. In a surface-level, simple remembrance way. It didn't leave a mark.

So: dropping to four point five rounded down it is!

Bottom line: Reading is weird. But the best weird thing.


oh, no. i couldn't stop reading this book and now i'm finished and it's 2 am.

review to come from a sleepy me / 5 stars i think (dropped to 4.5 upon reviewing)

tbr review

give me all the literary fiction with boston settings
Profile Image for JanB .
1,129 reviews2,291 followers
July 23, 2020
What a joy to immerse myself into such beautiful writing and storytelling. Casey is 31, a struggling writer who is working as a waitress and saddled with crushing debt. To complicate matters further, she’s dealing with debilitating grief at her mother’s untimely death and estranged from her father.

As Casey struggles to simply survive and complete her novel she dates two very different men, unsure which one is for her (if either). She deals with some medical issues while worrying about insurance. At 31, she is still trying to figure out life, what the future holds, and wondering if she’s somehow gotten it all wrong.

I fell hard for Casey. She’s so likable, I was rooting for her from the first page to the last. I wanted to fold her into my arms and tell her everything would be ok. At certain points I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next, which is rare in an introspective literary fiction novel.

I loved her thoughts on books and what a literature teacher should be instilling in her students (how I would have loved to have had a high school teacher who thought the same). I loved the trip to the art museum, reading her thoughts and how emotionally moved she was by certain paintings. I loved the inside look at what it is like to waitress at an upscale restaurant, and how she dealt wih her co-workers and patrons. I loved the insight into a writer’s life. I loved her interactions with two young boys who had lost their mother, boys who stole my heart.

The skill of the author is how relatable and sympathetic she made Casey, even though my life couldn’t be more different than hers. Except for losing a mother. I lost mine a little over a year ago and there were passages that spoke to me on a deep level, as only someone who has lost their mother can understand. I love introspective novels where I get a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of the characters, their hopes, dreams, successes failures, and insecurities. I felt her pain and rejoiced at her successes, and wasn’t ready for the book to end, although it ended perfectly.

“An author is trying to give you an immersive adventure”. Lily King did just that and I loved it.

I want to end with some quotes I particularly loved:

Casey on writing:

Her landlord says to her: “I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say.” (seriously????) Casey is stunned into silence but thinks: “ I don’t write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don’t, everything feels even worse.” >

On grief:

“I can tell he lost someone close somehow. You can feel that in people, an openness, or maybe it's an opening that you're talking into. With other people, people who haven't been through something like that, you feel the solid wall.”

“I look back on those days and it feels gluttonous, all that time and love and life ahead…..and my mother on the other end of the line.”

“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 that I’m okay.”

“You don't realize how much effort you've put into covering things up until you try to dig them out.”

Other favorite quotes:

“Nearly every guy I've dated believed they should already be famous, believed that greatness was their destiny and they were already behind schedule….I thought I was just choosing delusional men. Now I understand it's how boys are raised to think, how they are lured into adulthood. I've met ambitious women, driven women, but no woman has ever told me that greatness was her destiny.”

“I…think about how you get trained early on as a woman to perceive how others are perceiving you, at the great expense of what you yourself are feeling about them. Sometimes you mix the two up in a terrible tangle that’s hard to unravel.”

“It's a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone.”
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,924 reviews35.4k followers
October 11, 2019
Boston University Bridge, connecting Boston to Cambridge, referred to as the BU Bridge, is mentioned many times throughout “Writers & Lovers”.

Casey Kasem, rides her banana seat bike over the BU bridge to and from work. Each time Casey crosses the bridge — it feels like a monumental moment —symbolic—
a life in transition….a new start….hope for connection and stability.
As she pedaled across the BU Bridge, often at dusk, I got the feeling it was where Casey measured her healing, her strength…taking personal inventory of thyself.

I’m not sure if this book is for everyone — (I already saw a couple of low reviews —which I read carefully & respected), — but for me — this book was heaven!!! I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did “Euphoria”) ….

Casey is a 31 year old woman….
…..She is struggling to become a writer.
…..She was once a golf prodigy at Duke College —at age 14 —
…..She is struggling to gain financial independence. She has debts.
…..She has medical problems
…..She wants romantic and sexual fulfillment.

Years ago, I once lived in a tiny furnace room with no windows & unfinished walls — for $35 a month —in a large house in the Oakland Hills, while attending school at UC Berkeley.
It was easy to imagine the “Potting Shed” that Casey Kasem lived in. (there was room for a twin mattress, a desk, chair, hot plate, and toaster oven in the bathroom).

Casey’s landlord, Adam, (attorney and friends with her brother, Caleb), took an extra $50 off her rent (besides already giving her a deal), in exchange for walking his dog, *Oafie*, each morning.
Conversations between Casey and Adam were limited —Adam was not the ‘guy’ or ‘guys’ Casey got romantically involved with….(Luke, Silas, and Oscar are the lucky ones) ….
But I had a great laugh over a morning exchange between Adam (dressed for work in his spiffy suit) — and Casey (dressed in sloppy sweats about to walk his dog) …
Adam asks Casey:
“How many pages have you written?”
“Couple hundred, maybe, Casey says”
“I find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say”. (Ouch!!)

Casey had been accepted to attend a writers group for eight weeks, “Red Barn”. But, then her mother died....wishing she could postpone the dates —but it was ‘take it’ now —or forget the opportunity. She took it…….and brought her grief from Bend, Oregon, to Cambridge - making it very difficult to focus on writing.
Luke was from New York…in the workshop with Casey. He told her he lost a child —and that he and his wife were divorced. (Not divorced) — but for a short time —they had a ‘thing’ together. Casey even thought her dead mother brought Luke to her -to help with her grieving.

Later we meet Silas —and Oscar — (and their back stories)
Torn between two lovers —Casey will eventually choose. There was a hilarious conversation about ‘choosing’.
Ha, not wanting to share any profanity-words-to-describe the dialogue between friends and Casey —(as to which guy to pick) — I’ll just add — the many ‘friends’ of Casey’s in this novel were wonderful!

I loved the atmosphere Lily King painted.
One night, Casey was watching other writers in the workshop enjoy the night air. They were rocking in chairs on a porch.
“The Sky was violet, the trees dark blue. The frogs had started up in the pond across the road, louder and louder the closer you listened”.
I found myself listening to Casey’s inner thoughts….’louder & louder’ in the same way Casey listened to those frogs.
I was torn between wanting to plow forward quickly - to slowing down my reading - to savior Lily King’s lovely sentences.
I chose to slow down. 

I loved many ’tidbits’ in King’s storytelling……
Wandering through the Museum of Fine Art...Casey is on a date with Silas.
She remembers her mother use to bring her when she was little.
Casey & Silas drift over to ‘Art of Americans’, and stop at a painting -
‘Sargent’s: The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit’. (Considered the most psychologically compelling painting of John Singer Sargent’s career)...
I also love that painting.
It’s a painting of the four little girls... wearing white pinafores.
The conversation/interpretation about the painting between Casey and Silas was fascinating - I just liked it!!
I also loved what Casey said when she viewed the painting:
“If I could write something as good as right there, right where that belt cinches her pinafore. It’s hard to pull my eyes from it. I don’t know why it’s so moving to me, and I could never explain. There’s a madness to beauty when you stumble on it like that”.
I LOVE THOSE TYPE of MOMENTS IN LIFE!!! I live for them, too!!!!

I’m a reader — (never -ever- claimed to be a writer —in fact —I hate writing —always sure I can’t get any of the words right) …. Thank heavens for a little freedom on Goodreads. (We don’t have to all be writers) —some of us just want to share -and connect with others who might be interested in the same books we are.
But this is true:
I thought…
This book…
I loved my private quiet time with the characters -the college town - the restaurant - (the people, descriptions of foods, wines, plants, customers), the lovely insightful writing -
I didn’t even want to write this review —because I liked this book soooo much —

I loved little things that I’m not sure anyone else would care. I really grew from this book —and its embarrassing to share that!!!! (Makes a girl feel pretty small)

At the museum Casey and Silas were standing in front of Van Hogg’s oil painting....’Houses at Auvers’....then Henri Matisse’s ‘Vase of Flowers’ ...I was in enjoying their museum stroll. I looked up the paintings on google simply to enjoy them....
Those paintings alone slowed down my reading. I was totally enjoying savoring Lily’s new book! And I was feeling sad —wanting to really visit the New York Museum of Art. I haven’t been. I haven’t been to Boston — I haven’t been to Cambridge — I actually had tears feeling the loss of a place I’ve never been -but have wanted to go.

In the meantime, I’m writing a crappy review — (I’m sure I need an editor), —
ha….of a book I *totally loved*!

There was a scene a little too close to home. I had five surgeries for skin cancer two years ago -which many people know (I lost 1/2 of a nose) —
Reading about Casey’s squamous carcinoma —brought back too many memories I’d rather forget. Living with the scars is a daily reminder in itself.

Casey didn’t tell her dermatologist that she used to lie in the sun with baby oil. Ha, not sure I told my doctors, either….(but I figured they knew).

Casey also got a call from her gynecologist who explained she had severe dysplasia on her cervix and needed to come in for a scraping. 

So this young woman — was dealing with the loss of her mother — (remembering the phone calls - memories - and the loved they sincerely shared together ) —
She was faced with too many bills —
Felt rejection — and less than —
She was invited to ridiculously expensive weddings —(only to make a woman feel worse)
She longed for love/ passion and a creative-meaningful life — (so easy to understand!!)
She had medical issues to seriously deal with — (ha —know that one too)
she was trying to finish her novel — (ok, not me —I’m just trying to finish this review)

YEP….I loved this novel!!!!

*** On Writing…. Casey says:
“I try to write something new. It’s bad and I stop after a few sentences. Even though I didn’t feel it at the time, I got into a rhythm with the old novel. I knew those characters and how to write them. I heard their voices and I saw their gestures and everything else feels fake and stiff. I ache for them, people I also once felt we’re stiff and fake, but who now seem like the only people I could ever write about”. 

Thank you Netgalley, Grove Atlantic (always grateful) — and Lily King. (If you plan to come speak in the Bay Area about this book —I’ll attend)
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,209 reviews26k followers
January 24, 2021
3.5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this one, some parts of this book were so beautiful and stunning it nearly brought me to tears, and other parts of this book were so boring and slow it nearly brought me to tears. I loved the discussion about grief and how it doesn't matter how old you are, losing your Mother will always be terrible and awful and life will not be the same after. I feel like this book was hard to read because it's so depressing, but I could relate to a lot of the things this character was going through. I also love the fact that this book follows a writer, I always love when books follow writers, it inspires me to write.

See this reading vlog I did: https://youtu.be/2OknqgHLvIE
March 24, 2022

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Wow. I am kind of shocked by how much I loved this. WRITERS & LOVERS is the first book I've read that truly captures what it's like to be a woman in your late-twenties/early-thirties and not have your life figured out. When all your friends are in serious relationships or married, with real desk jobs and houses of their own, and you're still working a dead-end job and chasing the dream, while serial-dating like you're still in college, it's hard to be taken seriously.

But this book, it gets that.

Casey is living in New England working a waitressing job she hates while trying to finish up her novel. Her mother has just died, she has health problems but no health insurance, her student loans have defaulted and seem virtually insurmountable, and she's stuck dating two guys-- one a mature "adult" with two young children and a job with the respect and esteem she craves, and the other is in the same boat as her-- struggling to make it, still figuring his life out. She flip-flops between the two, afraid of committing to a course of action that could change her life forever-- for better or for worse.

As an author myself, I've read a lot of books about other writers and most of them don't get it. They either romanticize writing as being this holy grail of careers (ha) in this carefree bohemian life (ha) where you meet interesting people all the time and drink champers over Proust (ha-ha-ha), or else demonize it as being a career that attracts crazy people who use it as an exercise to exorcise their demons (ha... actually, wait this one is more accurate). Casey falls in the middle of both camps. She hates the pretentiousness of some writers, while also desperately craving that acclaim for herself. She stereotypes people based on what they read (I do this too-- LOL), she feels jealousy about others' success, and she is afraid to read the works of the people she knows, not just because they might hate her if she doesn't like their work but also because it might be too weirdly, creepily intimate (YES).

Besides all the wicked observations about writers and readers and pretentious intellectuals, there's also just some really good observations about what it means to be an older young adult who is still trying to grow up while feeling as if they already should have. Casey is immature but she's trying not to be. The struggles she faces-- even though this book is set in 1997-- are still relevant today, and it touches upon a lot of things that plague women, like fertility, sexism, being taken seriously as a professional, passion, domesticity, anxiety, partner intimacy, and so much more.

This is the first book I've read in a long time that I feel really gets me. I loved it.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

4.5 to 5 stars
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
788 reviews5,401 followers
June 30, 2022
I don't write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don't, everything feels even worse.

Frequently romanticized though rarely all that glamorous, the life of an emerging or struggling audience has been a captivating narrative through-out the history of literature. Perhaps it is because we see ourselves in them and can find hope, comforted in the realization that everyone is flawed and runs aground from time to time. While Writers and Lovers by Lily King isn’t exactly breaking uncharted territory, it is such a blissful encapsulation of the genre delivered in such engaging writing that I found myself unable to stop thinking about it and rooting for King’s heroine, 31 year old Casey Peabody, the whole way. There is something akin to the works of Sally Rooney here, though a bit less gritty and more easily-likeable characters, that I found really satisfying. Or, as emma so perfectly phrased it when recommending it to me, it feels like ‘if Sally Rooney wrote a romcom,’ which is probably the best explanation (she always has the best succinct analysis that hits right to the heart of matters). This is such an adorable and empathetic novel with the right amount of grit beneath it’s welcoming veneer, addressing issues of poverty, misogyny and the ways society pulls you away from the work you truly wish to be doing and King’s lovely story is certain to warm your heart and keep the flame of artistic endeavours alive.

It seems like another problem. And problems are mounting.

Down on her luck after the death of her mother and an uncomfortable break-up, Casey is six years into writing a novel about her mother that she’s afraid may never come to fruition though it is becoming her last grip to keep her mother alive in her heart. Returning to her college setting in Boston, she now works at a high-end restaurant on Harvard’s campus that takes up most of her time, returning early in the morning by bike to the tiny room rented out by her brother’s friend who clearly looks down on her. You could call it cliched but it never reads as such and it hit me right in the memories of my late twenties scrambling to stay afloat, heartbroken and lonely while one of my jobs was a high-end catering company. Those sections of the novel were such a delight because they are so incredibly accurate and I could practically associate each character with someone I knew. ‘There are long periods of time when we line the wall and watch the wedding party, each with our own particular cynicism,’ she writes of catering weddings, and oh damn do I relate. What I’m trying to get at here is this novel breathes with reality and the frenetic episodic nature of the book where there are endless problems looming and blooming overhead are cut from the fabric of hard living.

Having Casey be 31 years old opens the novel for some excellent existential ponderings, having your “youth” feel like its fading in the rear-view mirror while the future is awash in fog and you can’t find your map. ‘It’s strange, to not be the youngest kind of adult anymore,’ she thinks while riding past the college kids in the park, ‘I’m thirty-one now, and my mother is dead.’ During my own times that made me relate to this book I also lived right on the edge of a college campus, through which I would walk to get to work (and leave poems behind on all the trees) and inevitably contemplate the forward march of time while feeling there was scant to show for it. Basically, I felt this book deep within me and I think it’s a novel that would resonate with anyone of any age (set in 1997, it is awash in sepia tones of nostalgia, with casually placed nods to the time period).

There is a really great romantic angle to this as well, with Casey caught between dating both Oscar, an older already successful novelist, and one of Oscar’s students, Silas, who is Casey’s age and a bit of an adorable dork driving around in a car about to collapse. Sally Rooney fans will enjoy this angle as it reminded me a lot of her, but if you didn’t like Beautiful World, Where Are You? you’ll be glad to know this is almost the opposite of the relationships in there (ie. nobody is into torture porn and when the older man is mistaken for her father with the waiter calling her his ‘little girl’ it doesn’t make him horny but embarassed). Jokes aside, I quite enjoy Rooney and the the intricacies and flaws of her characters, so while these are well written I occasionally thought they were almsot too likable. Though the dynamic between them is always great, and King does build suspense over who Casey will end up with. Oscar's adorable children are fantastic too. King does well by looking at how uncomfortable it can be to introduce children into a new relationship, even with best intentions, because now young lives are getting attached to a relationship that might fail.

Are you more of an adult because two men are giving you the illusion of self-sufficiency?

Even with the love angle, the problems of being a woman in society are certainly woven through the narrative. Being taken less seriously as a writer to straight up sexual harassment pop up frequently, layered into the novel without much attention as if a quiet commentary on how normalized it is in society (there is an excellent commentary on how women authors must appear plesant and open in author photos while men can look brooding, mean, or overtly “serious”) Even when it is blatant, such as with toxic cooks at work, other men rush in to tell her she’s the one being rediculous and that they didn’t mean anything by being sexually aggressive or dehumanizing beyond some laughs.
I hate male cowardice and the way they always have each other’s backs. They have no control. They justify everything their dicks make them do. And they get away with it. Nearly every time.

Though Casey also finds it is simply hard to be taken serious as an artist, and watches gloomily as all her MFA friends quickly give up on their pursuits of art for marriage or banker jobs. ‘I just find it extraordinary you think you have something to say,’ her landlord tells her right at the start of the book. One of the best parts of the book is the way Casey never let’s anything crush her dreams, even when she is completely emotionally crushed, and she is such a plucky indie film author heroine in the best ways. When her gynecologist asks ‘So, you gonna write the Great American Novel?’ she retorts with ‘You gonna cure ovarian cancer?

Though this novel is soft and warm, it is not without its depth and hardships. Beyond issues of poverty, the issue of loss is at the center of the book with everything revolving around it. Her mother’s absence has gone through her ‘like thread through a needle,’ as poet W.S. Merwin wrote, ‘everything I do is stitched with its color.’ The writing of her novel becomes a form of therapy, and writing it about her mother keeps her close and alive despite knowing she is not. Though, it seems, this is not enough and King reminds us that actual therapy is sometimes needed and nothing to be ashamed of. ‘This is not nothing,’ her therapist tells her. ‘Of all his strange responses,’ she thinks, ‘this is the one that helps me the most. This is not nothing.’ It is a moving reminder our problems are never nothing, they are real to us and we are allowed to feel them, acknowledge them, and have them be acknowledged.

King uses geese as a wonderful symbolism for hope in the novel, and I love the way they are threaded through the story, their presence indicative with the passage of time both seasonally and away from the death of her mother.
I love these geese. They make my chest tight and full and help me believe that things will be all right again, that I will pass through this time as I have passed through other times, that the vast and threatening black ahead of me is a mere specter, that life is lighter and more playful than I’m giving it credit for.

This hope keeps the novel afloat in the darker sections and keeps the reader right there along with Casey in her struggles. It makes for a beautiful read and I’m thankful to all the amazing people on here who encouraged me to read this. It was interesting coming to this after Five Tuesdays in Winter and seeing how stories such as Timeline felt so similar to this book or how what happens with the brother and landlord here is much more effective than the expanded upon version in Hotel Seattle. This is a very charming novel that I found to be extremely comforting to read these past few weeks. It is a great piece cozily nestled into its time and place and, while admittedly very white, shows the struggles of young adults quite well. I loved following along with Casey on her journey and feeling inspired by her. There are many highs and lows in this novel, but they all feel very earned and even the ending doesn’t come across as trite or overly happy as it does seem to build to it effectively. A wonderful novel, and I am certainly a King convert now.

Profile Image for Sophia Judice.
57 reviews11.9k followers
July 29, 2021
When referencing the book Woodcutters, Lily King writes that Thomas Bernhard "manages to simulate consciousness," and that is truly the most accurate way I would describe Writers and Lovers. Lily King does an impeccable job of leading the reader into the mind of Casey Peabody. I felt like I really understand her. I understand how she views the world and its inhabitants with a healthy dose of cynicism and wit. I became emotionally attached to her. This book is very melancholy, yet feels a warm hug. It is real and honest and raw and passionate. I love reading about artists; it always invigorates me. While not the most exciting plot, I could not put the story down purely because the writing is so fantastic and I fell in love with Casey. The book definitely has a character-driven plot, which means that every character is so well crafted. I was amused by the ubiquitous self-absorbed-tortured-writer-"no one understands me" archetype. I recommend this book to anyone who has experienced a great loss and is looking to heal, who feels like everything has gone wrong, or just anyone who enjoys lovely, soulful, heartfelt writing.
Profile Image for Theresa Alan.
Author 10 books1,001 followers
February 27, 2020
3.5 stars. I found this to be an uneven novel. Lily King won a bunch of awards for her book Euphoria, which I downloaded a long time ago but never read. Now I’m not sure that I want to read it. Other people have rated the writing of this novel as wonderful, but I’m not impressed except with how she described one of the men wooing her—he’s a successful writer/widower/father of two who, like so many people, can only see what he doesn’t have and what he hasn’t achieved as he compares himself to other writers.

The first 40 to 45 percent of Writers and Lovers is a snoozefest. Casey has been working on a novel for six years and is in massive student loan debt because she spent her twenties traveling and not working. She spent her eight weeks of a retreat mooning over a guy and not writing. Now she’s waiting tables to pay the minimum on her bills each month.

Her mother died a while back, and she’s still processing that. Her father is a nightmare. While Casey gets along with her brother, he lives across the country. Even with these hardships, I didn’t love the character, although I did empathize with her anxiety and sleeplessness.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book, which RELEASES MARCH 3, 2020.

For more reviews, please visit http://www.theresaalan.net/blog
Profile Image for Olive Fellows (abookolive).
567 reviews4,605 followers
March 27, 2022
Click here to hear my thoughts on Lily King, this book, and all her other books over on my Booktube channel, abookolive!


The below review originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

On the shortlist of things one should never, ever say to a writer, “I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say,” would rank in the top three. Yet these words are carelessly hurled at the hopeful novelist Casey Peabody by her pompous Boston landlord early on in Lily King’s new novel, the aptly titled “Writers & Lovers.” Highly anticipated following her celebrated 2014 work, “Euphoria,” Lily King’s new book is a slightly “meta” account of a young writer struggling to complete her novel.

It’s 1997 and Casey spends her days waiting tables at an upscale restaurant, and her nights attempting to get her first book down on paper while she battles anxiety, self-doubt and grief. An educated and capable woman in her early 30s, she’s suffocating under heaps of student debt and grieving the sudden loss of her mother. A child golf prodigy, Casey long ago gave up a potentially lucrative career within the sport to pursue a life in the arts — and to put some distance between herself and her father. The sport is permanently soured for her, but we get the impression she deeply misses the former feeling of mastery as she presently flounders.

The majority of her writer friends have long since switched over to “real” jobs, only furthering the feelings of isolation and self-ridicule as she toils away, wondering if there will ever be a next phase in her life. Her desire to finish her novel — a project inspired by her mother — is strong, but calls from debt collectors and punishing shifts at the restaurant test her resolve.

As if her existing stressors weren’t enough, two men materialize in her life, one with whom she shares a chemistry that scares her, and the other whose life contains everything she covets. Ms. King strikes a balance between these two simultaneous love interests as easily as she did in “Euphoria” by avoiding the typical irritants of the love triangle dynamic and letting the situation instead provide further insight into Casey’s unattended demons. She inevitably must choose between the two men, but not before she spends time answering questions about her life she didn’t even know she had.

This is unquestionably a story about writing, but the prose is mostly barren of any mention of Casey’s writing process. There is no obsession with word count, no staring off into space in an attempt to pin down the perfect word, no fist-shaking at the shapeless creative enemy, writer’s block. Her writing is personal, something she keeps close to the chest. Even in conversation with another character about her work-in-progress, Casey desperately wants to change the subject. Speaking about her novel, she says, makes her “feel flayed alive.”

Yet the act of writing is still the center point around which the narrative revolves. Writing is Casey’s constant yet silent companion, the most complex relationship she has in the novel. The majority of the narrative space is refreshingly dominated by Casey’s attempts to navigate the social politics of her restaurant job and make the right choice of man, but we get the sense that her writing is what helps her cope with these matters. It is the means by which she resolves the internal conflict of her past and present, and her way of putting into words all that she can’t say to the people around her.

Throughout, we’re tempted to forget the real writer here is Lily King, disappearing behind the story of Casey’s first novel being born. What at first appears to be a surface-level, nostalgic venture into the life of a starving artist in the ’90s slowly becomes an examination of all that writing demands and provides. In this novel, writing is both passion and hardship, reprieve and punishment. It allows Casey to close earlier chapters of her life and open to a blank page.

“Writers & Lovers” is a triumph of a novel, as witty as it is profound. A queen of nuance, Ms. King hides an arsenal of emotional power behind quiet, intentional prose. Nearly every word of this novel seems carefully and deliberately chosen, rewarding close readers and promising re-readers an even deeper experience. Most significantly, although Ms. King’s portrayal of a writer’s life is brutally honest, it urges all of us to personally take on the agony, but also the sublime ecstasy of the writer’s journey. After all, we all have something to say, it’s merely about finding the right words with which to say it.
Profile Image for Dolors.
524 reviews2,180 followers
November 6, 2020
Even if time is scarce to read these days, I could have finished this book in two days.
But I didn’t want to. I made it last, oh yes, I made it last as much as I could because I didn’t want it to end.
I went back to highlighted paragraphs and reread whole sections, savoring the quality of King’s writing, the familiar echo of her protagonist’s voice, the fear and angst reverberating underneath the humorous tone of her thoughts. It all sounded so true, so valid, so spot-on.

Novels like this one are rare.
Novels that are obviously written with as much heart as talent.
King possesses both besides the double quality of being a careful observer and a passionate reader. Her love of the written word is elating. Her need to express life through art, through writing, can’t be separated from the way she lives it.
And so does Casey, the narrator of this story, a 31 years-old aspiring writer that faces the end of a phase in her life and stands hovering over the abyss of uncertainty, not sure of her value or place in the world, not wanting to let go of her youth but knowing deep down that time is running out to make the right choices.

Buried in debt with no healthcare plan like too many Americans, working endless hours at a restaurant, struggling against the sudden death of her mother, torn apart by two potential lovers, overwhelmed by anxiety and fear of the future, the only thing that keeps Casey standing is the novel she has been writing for six years. A novel she is too afraid to let her best friend and published writer read because she is terrified it might be rubbish.
“I don’t write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don’t, everything feels even worse” Casey responds to her egotistic landlord when he sneers at her for trying to write a book.
That’s precisely how I felt when I spent time with King’s novel. I felt better when I opened the pages and buried my nose in them. I rooted for Casey to succeed at her attempt to have her voice listened to, not only in her novel, but also in her real world after so many let-downs starting with her own father.

“Writers & Lovers” is a book about finding one’s way staying true to the things that keep one’s world turning. It’s about discerning what it’s important from what it is not. Infused with droll wit, it’s also an elegant caricature of the artistic scene dominated by egocentric writers, editors and male wannabes that channel their competitivity through art without really listening to what others have to say. Last but not least, this is also a book about craving love, family and learning to trust one’s instincts.

Geese have a new acquired meaning to me after having been in Casey’s head. I can’t help but smile at King’s craftmanship. At her rhapsodic justice. What an end. Some readers might have felt a bit deflated by it. I admit it might be the one part that doesn’t ring true in the book, but I couldn’t help but feel elated for Casey, she is the kind of heroine that deserves such an outcome in a world that is brutal, specially for those whose position in it is fragile and yet they dare to hope, to defy the odds and give a shot at what they know deep down they should be spending their life doing. Live, write. Live.

“I received an ARC from Grove Atlantic via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.”
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,028 reviews661 followers
September 27, 2020
Casey Peabody, 31 years old, and working as a waitress in Cambridge, has a very full plate.  Her writing aspirations seem to be coming to nothing.  She is up to her eyeballs in debt with student loans, newly dumped by her boyfriend, and her mother has died unexpectedly.  More than plenty to handle, but destiny isn't finished with her quite yet.  

I could have made a meal off the delicious scenes with Casey working in the restaurant, her interaction with the clientele and with her co-workers.  The peek into the ins and outs of what it takes to write, to use what you have in your mind's eye and what you feel in your heart and somehow transfer it to words on paper.  Calling on the flavor of memories.  Likening reading a book to escaping into the author's mind.  

It's a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,415 reviews960 followers
November 18, 2021
Read this book if you are a lover of books about writers. Otherwise maybe skip this. Practically every character in this book is a writer, and that got old for me. The other focus was the two love interests (thus with the lovers part of the title), but I thought both of them were ridiculous for different reasons. Add on to that the multiple references to the main character's mother's death, which bothered me. I was sympathetic initially but when you find out that at one point her mom left her as a child with her father for a year so she could care for her terminally ill lover in another state - I basically lost my sympathy. And if I had to read one more thing about the main character's waitressing job I thought I was going to scream.

So yeah, I didn't care for this. Other people loved this though, so this might be a "me" problem instead of a "book" problem.
May 25, 2022
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“I don’t write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don’t, everything feels even worse.”

In Writers & Lovers, Lily King portrays an intimate and profoundly heartfelt slice of life that brims with wry humor and precise observations on grief, loneliness, identity, and creativity. This is truly a gem of a novel, a wonderful display of bravura. King seamlessly blends together realism and romanticism, capturing with humor and tenderness Casey’s everyday experiences and struggles.

“[I] think about how you get trained early on as a woman to perceive how others are perceiving you, at the great expense of what you yourself are feeling about them. Sometimes you mix the two up in a terrible tangle that’s hard to unravel.”

Writers & Lovers transports its readers to Massachusetts in the summer of 1997. Casey Peabody, our narrator, is in her thirties and attempting to navigate life after her mother’s sudden death. A recent heartbreak has made her feel all the more lonely and vulnerable, and Casey clearly longs to feel that she belongs and that she has not wasted the last years of her life writing a book that will never be published. While most of her friends have abandoned their creative pursuits—opting for more sensible careers and or starting their own families—Casey remains devoted to her writing and to the idea of one day becoming a published author. After her mother’s death, Casey feels even more unmoored and unsure of herself. She finds herself observing the customers who eat at the restaurant she works for, yearning for a connection of her own. Eventually, Casey grows close to two men, both of them writers, one is famous and a widowed father of two, the other is around her age.

“I have a problem with that sometimes, getting attached. Other people’s families are a weakness of mine.”

This novel gives us a glimpse into a particular period of Casey’s life. From her day-to-day activities and worries to the sorrow she feels at her mother’s death and the anxiety brought by her writing, her job, her college debt, and health concerns. The wry wit that characterises her inner-monologue mitigate the many trials and misadventures, Casey, experiences throughout the course of the novel. While the romantic relationships she forms along the way does play a role in Casey’s journey, this novel is first and foremost about her writing. From the process of creating a story to how it feels to write, Writers & Lovers is very much a love letter to writing. Casey’s reflections on writing reveal her relationship to this craft as well as the different ways in which the public and publishing industry view male and female authors. King’s meditations on life, grief, and creativity demonstrate extreme acuity and insight.

“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. The place where I am most myself.”

Casey is the novel’s star and I found her voice to be hugely endearing. Despite her dalliances with melancholy, deep-down she remains hopeful that she will publish her novel. King captures Casey’s idiosyncrasies, her quirks, the way she thinks and expresses herself, in such vivid detail that she felt very much like a real person to me. The characters around her too came across as fully fleshed out individuals whose story doesn’t revolve around Casey herself. They are nuanced and multifaceted, regardless of how often they crop up in Casey’s narrative. The restaurant scenes were so realistic that they reminded me of my unfortunate time in F&D (it truly feels like a microcosm).

Writers & Lovers is a deeply affecting and ultimately hopeful story about a woman’s determination to pursue her dreams, in spite of societal pressure and of other people undermining her capabilities as an author or life choices. The author’s prose, the setting, the characters, the subject matter, all of these spoke to me. While reading Writers & Lovers I was struck by a sense of nostalgia while reading this, perhaps due to it being set in the 90s, which is still lingering over me as I write this. I found myself desperate to see how Casey’s story would conclude and unwilling to part ways with her.

“It’s a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone.”

Inspiring, witty, delightfully intertextual, full of heart Writers & Lovers is a truly luminous novel that I can’t wait to read again and again.

PS: the first time I tried reading this I hated it so I can see why it wouldn’t appeal to everyone. At the time I was in the doldrums and took Casey’s romantic expression too seriously. My apologises to the 40 people or so who liked my original review of this but I now love this book (what can i say, i'm a turncoat 🤡).

re-read: loved it just as much <3

ORIGINAL REVIEW (29/09/2019)

DNF at 20%

“When he kissed me he smelled like Europe”

...the guy happens to be Spanish so yes, of course he smells like Europe. Us Europeans have a very distinctive smell...
I just wander what this type of pointless description is trying to achieve.
Unsurprisingly, I've come to conclusion that this book is not for me.
Not only did I dislike the writing style but I found the story to be both trivial and banal. The narrative tries, and fails, to come across as a subversive story that follows the mundane trials experienced by an unpublished female writer (yes, we will be reminded in a few not so subtle ways that we are indeed reading of a writer who is a woman, not a man) whose personality is the usual blend of pathetic and alienated. She is treated badly by everyone around her, and we should feel something for her because she can't seem to get any writing done and she's also been dumped by her sort of lover....She makes a series of self-pitying and puerile contemplations regarding her own writing, writing itself, and her ambitions and desires. Yet, these observations lacked a distinctive voice, seeming to originate from no person in particular.
There were certain scenes that lacked clarity and cohesiveness, I wasn't sure when they started or ended as the narrator was too busy playing her own violin to make any sort of sense. I'm fine with narratives that rely on introspection but here our narrator's mental meanderings seemed merely superfluous additions that added little to no value to her character or her history.
Plus there were phrases such as the following that I really disliked:
—“that book made my nethersphere sore” (whatever that might mean)
—“They're the eyes of someone very tired and very sad, and once I see them I feel even sadder and then I see that sadness, that compassion, for the sadness in my eyes, and I see the water rising in them”
–My body aches from my throat to my groin.I want him to slide his fingers into my bathing suit and make all the heaviness and misery go away ” (the one that made me quit this book for once and for all).

Reading all of this made me laugh, and I'm not sure that was the intended effect behind their inclusion. I just found this to be a sloppy and predictable tale of an alienated woman who is unsure of her place in the world. This is one of the many recent releases that attempt to provide us with a self-aware look into the life of a writer...and similarly to Bunny it tries to make fun of writing in general.
If you are looking for a thought-provoking novel featuring the ups and downs of a creative mind, in this case a photographer, I would recommend Self-Portrait with Boy. If you want to read of a book narrated by a restlessly detached protagonist maybe you should pick up something by Ottessa Moshfegh.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
475 reviews1,311 followers
July 3, 2020
“Writers aren’t thrusters.”
King has a way with words and her stories always are real-Real characters that you can empathize with.
I adored Euphoria and the spell she cast then. She cast another one with the character of Casey. The reality of struggling as a writer; coping with a parent’s death; debt; relationship challenges.and the downward spiral that can happen when one becomes overwhelmed with things that just don’t seem to be going right.
It just rang true in so many ways.

“I know you are drunk on youth and mortality, but this is how you die” this just reminded me of everything going on in the world today and the challenges we are facing in this pandemic.
4 for the story but upping it to 5⭐️ because I appreciate her writing.

Profile Image for EJ.
124 reviews12 followers
March 27, 2020
Truly stunned by the sea of 5-star reviews this book has collected. The main character, Casey, is a melodramatic tragedy who can't get out of her own way, but also is asked out by every man she meets. Same I guess. There are some engaging parts, where I was interested to see what would happen next (hence the two stars rather than one) but mostly those were ruined by the fact that Casey is obnoxious. Also, this book is rife with tedious, weird plot threads that seem to be thrown in for no real reason. She's a golf prodigy? Her dad's a pervert? She lived in Spain once with a random dude? Literally none of these things are of consequence to the story at large and yet they are frequently tossed about, as if that'll make her interesting. If you like any of what I mentioned above, have at it. Otherwise, I'd steer clear.
Profile Image for *TUDOR^QUEEN* .
421 reviews435 followers
May 9, 2020
3.75 rounded up to 4

I was immediately drawn into this book by the intense sorrow of the main character, Casey Peabody. I confess I have a thing for melancholy in storytelling. My favorite movie is "Terms of Endearment" because I love when my heartstrings are pulled. As the book begins we get a strong sense of sadness in Casey. She is living in a garden shed, all that she can afford due to the crushing college loan debt she is only paying minimums on. She has been trying to finish writing a novel for the last six years. She has a regular practice of getting up pre-dawn for some dedicated writing time, before hopping onto her bicycle and pedalling to her waitress job at The Iris. A huge part of her sadness is because her mother suddenly passed away in recent months. Her mother had been on a trip with friends, and there was no conclusive medical reason as to why she died without warning in hospital. Casey is still reeling from this, along with the financial burden that weighs so heavily upon her. At the beginning of the book when Casey was riding to her waitress job on her bicycle, just feeling as if she would fall apart physically, weeping... she had me hooked in emotionally.

Oddly enough, my favorite parts of the book were when Casey was waitressing at The Iris, an upscale eatery. I loved reading about all the little behind the scenes details of how a restaurant runs, and the many intricate steps to setting up the dining room before clientele arrive, taking the orders, serving, dealing with the chefs, etc. Being a waitress has to be one of the hardest jobs, and Casey worked her butt off at this dual level establishment. My favorite glimpse into working at The Iris was when she was carefully setting up an outside deck area with candlelit tables, the view complimented by lots of greenery and flowers.

An area of conflict in the book was Casey deciding between two very different boyfriends. Both were writers. Silas was a young, up and coming "never been published" writer like Casey, who drove a lime green LeCar, still unsettled and finding himself, just like Casey. At the other side of the spectrum, Oscar was already a successful published author who had book signing tours, a beautiful home, and was widowed with two young sons.

Casey clearly had a lot of stress and sadness to deal with. She would have a "clenching" regimen going up and down her body to somehow deal with her anxiety. She also had difficulty sleeping. I kept thinking, "she needs someone to take care of her".

Casey's brother Caleb visited briefly towards the end of the book and for some reason this section had me disengaging. For me, it detracted from the story, didn't add anything to it. It had me slightly skimming.

In summation, I have a thing for "quiet reads" and I would include this in that genre. Books that don't make a big splash, but speak to me about the simple movements, pleasures, and tragedies of daily life. The technical writing style was good, but not as free flowing and easy as I would like. I would rate this somewhere between a 3 and a 4.

Thank you to Grove Press who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Jennifer Welsh.
219 reviews160 followers
October 25, 2020
I loved this elegant coming-of-age story about a 31-year-old woman trying to find her place, not only among writers and lovers, but also within herself, after the death of her mother.

Casey is smart, funny, unassuming, and a little lost. She doesn’t have much stability in her life, but she’s not without the support of good people. She tells us this story herself, mostly in the present tense. Her struggles are our struggles, the stuff of life, told with beauty and humor in her specifics.

This book is also a lot about writing; the creative process of it, the publishing and post-publishing experience of it, the sacrifices we make for it, the lives we structure around it; writing as sanctuary and healing. There are some fun meta moments, like when Casey’s mentor advises her to describe the physical experience of emotions rather than state them outright - something that King does from the start.

I think I may turn around and read it again - at least, the beginning.
Profile Image for Tina.
2,396 reviews1 follower
July 25, 2022
I normally do not read a ton of Literary Fiction books, but I really wanted to read this book. I am not sure if it was everyone else's reviews of the book or the cover. I have to say I am really glad I did want to read this book because I really like it. The book Writers & Lovers follows Casey Peabody getting over her Mother's death, finding love, getting through health issues, starting a new job, and writing a book. If you have been thinking of picking this book up you should give it a try. I got an e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Anne .
438 reviews348 followers
December 26, 2020
“I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say.”
These words are spoken by our protagonist’s landlord after Casey, our protagonist, tells him she is writing a novel.

Just the words a first time novelist needs to hear. But he doesn’t bother Casey much. He is nothing compared to the grief and stress with which Casey is struggling. She meets these head on and with self-awareness, honesty and aplomb. As the stressors build she becomes very anxious but with the support of good friends, she continues to move forward with her life and her goals, getting out of debt, completing her novel, and choosing the right man for herself.

This novel is beautifully written and I was completely charmed by the lovable and insightful narrator and protagonist, Casey Peabody who, despite dealing with anxiety and grief on a daily basis, maintains a sense of humor and honesty with herself and others. We are privy to her thoughts as she narrates her struggles with grief, men, money and the writing process. Casey is my kind of human, authentic and truthful always.

This is such quotable novel. Here are just a few examples out of many:

Casey on grief: I'm both the sad person and the person wanting to comfort the sad person.”

Casey on a particular predicament for women:

“you get trained early on as a woman to perceive how others are perceiving you at the great expense of what you yourself are feeling about them. Sometimes you mix the two up in a terrible tangle that's hard to unravel.”

Casey on reading:

Casey is looking for a job and learns of an opening at a high school for an English teacher. She has never taught a class in her life. In an interview. Casey remarks, "Talking about characters in books is exciting and soothing to me at the same time." She goes on to talk about the importance of involving the students in what they are reading, and says that questions that pull the students out of what they are reading miss the point. "You want to push them further in, so they can feel everything the author tried so hard to create for them....An author is trying to give you an immersive adventure.”

Casey on writing:

"The hardest thing about writing is getting in, breaking through the membrane. The second hardest thing is getting out. Sometimes I sink down too deep and come out too fast. Afterward I feel wide open and skinless."

Apparently, Casey’s landlord was wrong. Casey has a lot to say that is meaningful, perceptive and recognizable the moment you read it. I would like to have a glass of wine with Casey but, alas, she is a fictional character though there were times that she felt so real to me that sharing a glass of wine with her did not seem out of the realm of possibility.
Profile Image for capture stories.
110 reviews64 followers
November 14, 2020
"I don't write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don't, everything feels even worse."

Casey, a going to be debut writer, finds her life at stake with a mixture of faith to keep, debts to pay, housing to secure, healthcare to obtain, sandwiched in between a love triangle and panic attack. Writers & Lovers spill out on a real-world that is fierce and a fight to win for. Just like any fresh graduates, Casey embarks on a journey to fulfill a life of her own, almost breaking her at a tenuous point. When bread is the wager, romance is just a luxury. At 31 years old, she grips anxiously to her dream of publishing her first novel, hopes undeterred by her friends who some had settled for a life of ease, chosen different path, married, and had successfully secured a writing career. Even some had changed their course of studies from writing to law or engineering for a safer route- security of a stable future.

Lily King had created a heroic character despite the chaotic turn of events. Bits of weird plots thrown in here and there had made the book less favorable and presented a flat tone, lacking enthusiasm, even uncanny flow of events. Notwithstanding, King skillful crafted words that shed light on Casey's story, a precarious experience to survive, for love, be love, care, and receive care. Episodes perplexity of emotions shot through with fear of dropping something so precious and fragile, a bad outcome, but no, that's not how the story ended. There's an adhesive force in even the smallest courage, a chance that one can embrace and finally, could turn out good. Instead of pulling readers away from the cruel reality of modern life, King placed a connection that Casey's story is not far-fetched at all; perhaps, it is relatable in so many ways.

Upon finishing the read, I couldn't help being nostalgic, but wistful, about how I was at that age and stage of life when I too was feisty to keep the dreams, things cherished, and the desire wanted to be heard and seen. I still am, now.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
January 23, 2021
Review also published to Blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Just call it Love, Pure and Simple.

“Writers and Lovers” by Lily King is the story of Casey Peabody, a 31-year-old woman who knows pain and defeat and knows it well. A waitress and a struggling writer, Casey recently lost her mother and is $73,000 in debt due to exorbitant college loans that have taken over her life. Working two jobs just to pay the minimum, Casey merely exists.

When she begins dating two very different men, complications ensue. Both men are interesting, intriguing and both provide something she so desperately needs. Inspiration to write, and write she does.

Brilliant, introspective, funny, and a bit snarky, Casey’s character immediately drew me in. Whether it be when she was sparring with her landlord Adam, hanging out with her friend Muriel analyzing their love lives, talking about books, serving customers at the upscale restaurant she works at, or babysitting her boyfriend’s sons for the weekend and teaching them how to shuffle cards and make her favorite snack food. Simply put, Casey shines in whatever situation she’s in. People are drawn to her for a reason and I was hooked.

Truth be told, I loved everything about “Writers and Lovers” - including the writing, the character development, and the way it made me feel inside. Casey is a character I won’t soon forget!

After reading stellar reviews, I’m looking forward to reading Lily King’s “Euphoria.”

Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of the audiobook narrated by the brilliant Stacey Glemboski - who sang as well. To say that I was blown away by her narration is an understatement. If you haven’t read this yet and it’s on your tbr, I highly recommend checking out the audiobook, it’s outstanding. The more I have thought about this book the last few days, I realize that I must add this book to my Goodreads best of list for 2021. It really is just that good!

Published on Goodreads on 1.21.21.
Excerpt to be published Insta.
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827 reviews
June 8, 2020
It’s 1997 in Boston in Writers & Lovers, where Casey is broke and waiting tables as she attempts to pay off her massive debt and pursue a writing career. Her apartment is questionable, her job is barely getting her by, and she’s reeling from both the death of her mother and a recent romance — It’s a lot for anyone to deal with, especially someone with a limited support network, though she does turn to her brother and her best friend when she can.

Add in a health scare, an arrogant landlord, and the fear of rejection that all writers undoubtedly experience at some time or another, and Casey is overwhelmed. She also meets two different men: Oscar, a widowed father and successful writer, and Silas, a middle school teacher and fellow aspiring writer, closer to her own age. She’s drawn to each of them for various reasons.

Writers & Lovers is the first Lily King book I’ve read and I enjoyed it. Though I grew up a few year later, I appreciated the 90s references, and felt like a few more wouldn’t have hurt. As an avid reader and someone who has casually dreamed of writing a book — someday — the premise of this story was interesting and I was rooting for Casey.

Thank you to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Author 35 books11.2k followers
April 16, 2020
Lily King is one of the most astute observers we have of that strange intersection of grief and desire, and one of the smartest writers I read. I loved this novel and I loved her heroine, Casey Peabody, and felt precisely her pangs of despair and her moments of transcendence, and was rooting for her page after beautiful page.
May 26, 2022

In this one a girl had to pretend she's a blue giraffe. A fearless one. Now I've seen everything.

Casey's mom is dead. Casey's dead is a jerk (quite literally). And Casey is struggling: with health, money and life generally.

She does lots of self-sabotage but there's one thing she does that settles here apart from other wannabe writers: she actually writes. Regularly. For several hours a day.

She's a polyglot. Has some sort of aversion of office work.

She does some clenching and unclenching which seems to be OCD-ish, weird that she starts doing that only towards the end of the book.

Love the ending… Really love it, even if I don't really get why she couldn't have started teaching earlier, if it scares her less than office work (or not at all). Then, everyone needs some space to grow into oneself.

Power lines:
I luxuriate in the time, the endless time. No doubles, no shifts at all. (c)
I turn to the front of the notebook. I already know the first line. (c)
‘On the count of three we are going to raise our hands high and let out a barbaric yawp.’
Everyone has their own version of what a barbaric yawp is, but our collective yawp is loud and the management comes over. (c)
‘I have no fears today,’ I scribble, fold it up and drop it in. I’m stunned by the truth of it. (c)
I am a fearless blue giraffe…. I start to sob, like a fearless blue giraffe. (c)

A particularly nasty guy:
‘You know… I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say.’ (c) I'd find it extraordinary how that foot fit into that mouth that snugly!

Nearly every guy I’ve dated believed they should already be famous, believed that greatness was their destiny and they were already behind schedule. An early moment of intimacy often involved a confession of this sort: a childhood vision, teacher’s prophesy, a genius IQ. At first, with my boyfriend in college, I believed it, too. Later, I thought I was just choosing delusional men. Now I understand it’s how boys are raised to think, how they are lured into adulthood. I’ve met ambitious women, driven women, but no woman has ever told me that greatness was her destiny. (c) Oh, wow. That's deep.

Infinity goes on a loop here:
I look into my eyes, but they aren’t really mine, not the eyes I used to have. They’re the eyes of someone very tired and very sad, and once I see them I feel even sadder and then I see that sadness, that compassion, for the sadness in my eyes, and I see the water rising in them. I’m both the sad person and the person wanting to comfort the sad person. And then I feel sad for that person who has so much compassion because she’s clearly been through the same thing, too. And the cycle keeps repeating. It’s like when you go into a dressing room with a three-paneled mirror and you line them up just right to see the long narrowing hallway of yourselves diminishing into infinity. It feels like that, like I’m sad for an infinite number of my selves. (c)

Mary Hand:
‘C’mon, little homunculus,’ Mary Hand coos at a burned-down tea light. No one ever calls her just Mary. (c)

Weird banking practice:
Lincoln Lugg is counting my money with his lips and does not respond. (c) That's real weird, to use one's lips instead of machine.

I poke around in the Ancient Greek section. That’s the next language I want to learn. (c)
We went from French to a sort of hybrid of the Catalan and Castilian that he taught me, and I wonder if that’s part of the reason I don’t miss him, that everything we ever said to each other was in languages I’m starting to forget. Maybe the thrill of the relationship was the languages, that everything was heightened for me because of it, more of a challenge, as I tried to maintain his belief in my facility with languages, my ability to absorb, mimic, morph. (c)
Conversations in foreign languages don’t linger in my head like they do in English. They don’t last. (c)

The bibliophile's paradise:
It’s a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone. (c)

On the dandgers of lettering too much:
I don’t want to spend too much time on the phone, then have it be awkward in person like in that story ‘The Letter Writers’ about a man and a woman who fall in love through ten years of correspondence, and when they meet their bodies can’t catch up to their words. (c) Sounds like something I'd love to read :)

She had to give herself eighteen hand jobs, she told me, to get through Middlemarch the summer she was seventeen. That book made my nethersphere sore, she said. (c)
She’s squirrely about the details of her life. No one knows where she lives or with whom. It’s just a question of how many cats, Harry says. (c)

On the power of grief and healing:
I have a pact with myself not to think about money in the morning. I’m like a teenager trying not to think about sex. But I’m also trying not to think about sex. (c)
I love these geese. They make my chest tight and full and help me believe that things will be all right again, that I will pass through this time as I have passed through other times, that the vast and threatening blank ahead of me is a mere specter, that life is lighter and more playful than I’m giving it credit for. But right on the heels of that feeling, that suspicion that all is not yet lost, comes the urge to tell my mother, tell her that I am okay today, that I have felt something close to happiness, that 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 that I’m okay. (c)
The plants all seem satisfied, thriving, and it makes you feel that way, too, or at least that thriving is a possibility. (c)

The rest of it:
‘Meeting with the judge at the courthouse at seven sharp.’
Admire me. Admire me. Admire judge and courthouse and seven sharp. (c)
I’d just moved back from France that fall and had this idea that even though Maria was American we’d be speaking French the whole time, speaking about Proust and Céline and Duras, who was so popular then, but instead we spoke in English, mostly about sex, which I suppose was French in its way. (c)
Life was light and cheap, and if it wasn’t cheap I used a credit card. (c)
‘You’re more like us, the old guard.’ She means people hired by the previous house manager. ‘Cerebral.’
‘I’m not sure about that.’
‘Well, you know what cerebral means, so case in point.’ (c)
... release of a poetry chapbook called Shit and Fuck … (c)
‘Why do men always want to look like that in their author photos?’
‘My deep thoughts hurt me,’ ...
‘Exactly. Or… I might have to murder you if you don’t read this.’ (c)
And, like, it was this small thing, but at one point he said that every line of dialogue had to have at least two ulterior motives, and I said what if the character just wants to know what time it is. People gasped. And then silence. I like a little more debate. (c)
You go out to see a man about a dog. And if he’s not there you get swept away by a rogue wave. (c)
“Leave it to Muriel to find a man named Christian at a bat mitzvah.” (c)
‘I’d like to meet a guy who wants what he says he wants. No more “I’m just moving slowly” or “I just need to go away for a really vague amount of time.” Jesus.’ (c)
… at night I terrified myself with this fear that somewhere inside me someone wanted to die. (с)
He looks greedily around at the nothing of my life.
‘It’s the scent of freedom in here, Casey. You won’t be able to smell it till you’ve lost it.’
Actually I could smell it. It was the scent of black mold and gasoline that came in from the garage.
We always sound confident when we’re talking about the other person’s book. (c)
I think of all the people playing roles, getting further and further away from themselves, from what moves them, what stirs them all up inside.(c)
I told him I’d gone to grad school in creative writing because of him, that I was writing a novel. He said he’d stopped reading fiction. It wasn’t any good anymore he said. (c)
‘It’s always a choice between fireworks and coffee in bed,’ (c)
I’ve made my choice. I’m done with the seesaw, the hot and cold, the guys who don’t know or can’t tell you what they want. I’m done with kissing that melts your bones followed by ten days of silence followed by a fucking pat on the arm at the T stop. (c)
So many years since I’ve felt naturally good at something, good in an empirical, undeniable way that is not reliant on anyone’s opinion. (c)
She talks and all I see is what she cannot, these years of my life woven into the pages. (c)
‘It’s just that je ne sais quoi.’
But I know the quoi. She is reading in churches and auditoriums. She’s
‘Are we really fighting about why I’m not with someone else?’ (c)
I lift up my arm and squeeze my right fist. I count to ten and release it. I raise my left fist and squeeze and he copies me. I release and he releases. We do many muscles this way, arms, stomach, legs, feet. The last thing I show him are the face muscles, squeezing everything tight shut then opening our eyes and mouth wide. We look like crazed demons guarding a temple. (c)
There’s a particular feeling in your body when something goes right after a long time of things going wrong. It feels warm and sweet and loose. (c)
‘All problems with writing and performing come from fear. Fear of exposure, fear of weakness, fear of lack of talent, fear of looking like a fool for trying, for even thinking you could write in the first place. It’s all fear. If we didn’t have fear, imagine the creativity in the world. Fear holds us back every step of the way. A lot of studies say that despite all our fears in this country—death, war, guns, illness—our biggest fear is public speaking. What I am doing right now. And when people are asked to identify which kind of public speaking they are most afraid of, they check the improvisation box. So improvisation is the number-one fear in America. Forget a nuclear winter or an eight point nine earthquake or another Hitler. It’s improv. Which is funny, because aren’t we just improvising all day long? Isn’t our whole life just one long improvisation? What are we so scared of?’ (c)
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