Originally published: 28 May 2020
Author: Lily King
Published by: Picador
Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Reading dates: 26-29 May
Set in the late 1990s, 31 year old Casey has ended up back in Massachusetts after a failed love affair has left her devastated. Her mother has recently died and she is struggling with grief, loneliness and the worry of debt and where her life is going. She works in an upmarket restaurant, Iris as a waitress and lives in a tiny rented and damp apartment belonging to a friend of her brother. Her one constant is the novel she has been writing for the last 6 years.
And then one evening she meets Silas at a book signing and they get on well but before they can get together he has to leave town. A few weeks later Oscar, a published author walks into the restaurant with his two adorable little boys. He is older than her and is grieving the death of his wife. Casey finds herself at the point of a love triangle, one with Silas who drives her mad with lust but is unreliable and Oscar the safe option, who comes with a lovely house and a ready made family.
This is literary fiction at its best. We are completely immersed in Casey’s life and her every feeling. We hear about the unexpected death of her mother and the grief Casey is still feeling. Her pain is raw and will resonate with anyone who has lost someone close to them. We hear how she went to a writers retreat shortly after her mothers death and fell hard for a poet called Luke. When he left the retreat, the number he gives her doesn’t work and someone tells her he is married. She returns to Massachusetts with a broken heart as well as her grief.
There is a fabulous cast of characters around her. I liked how she details the other writers she has known who have fallen by the wayside as they have fallen into conventional careers and relationships. Best friend and fellow writer Muriel is supportive and encouraging and she has a lovely friendship with Harry at the restaurant.
She is a bit startled to find herself in two relationships at once. Silas is an unknown to her but she feels deeply attracted to him. Oscar is the safer option and she is fond of his boys. I loved being privy to her decision process.
I loved my short time with Casey and really enjoyed hearing about her life. Beautiful and captivating writing, this was a wonderful read.
My thanks to Alice Dewing and Picador for my gifted proof copy.
About the author:
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.