Book review: Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Book review: Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Reading Writers & Lovers is like reading poetry. I can only describe Lily King’s writing style as melodic and filled with emotion. Every paragraph is incredibly descriptive, making you feel like you’re in the room with the characters, feeling their emotions coursing through your veins.

Writers & Lovers follows the life of Casey who is a writer with the hopes of getting her first novel published. She’s been working on it for 6-years and just can’t seem to finish it. In the meantime, she’s a waitress, which gives her ample time for her writing.

Her life is not easy in any way. She’s getting over an ex-boyfriend, mourning the sudden death of her mother, dealing with heaps of debt, a father that’s a complete perv, loneliness; and living in a converted potting shed…that still smells like, well, a potting shed. She’s dealing with A LOT. It’s no surprise that she suffers from crippling anxiety, which she describes as “bees under her skin”.

“I tell him I was thinking about all the people I’ve pitied and scorned for ‘selling out’ or ‘settling’ and how none of them are alone or broke or driving to a shrink’s office in Arlington.”

While trying to juggle life and writing her book, she meets two men who are two complete opposites and who offers her two vastly different futures. Torn, she doesn’t know whether she wants a safe, comfortable life; or a passionate, exciting one.

I fell in love with Lily King’s writing and what I found interesting was that she doesn’t glamourise anything in this book. Most of us read for escapism and we expect the hyperbole, not a mirror to the mundane tones real life often is. She doesn’t romanticise being a writer, in debt, grieving, falling in love or suffering from anxiety. Nor does she sugar-coat the different ways in which men and women are treated and how the former tends to get away with appalling behaviour with little to no consequence. It’s a theme that’s woven subtly, and not subtly at times, throughout the book.

“Nearly every guy I’ve dated believed that 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.”

Having suffered from anxiety for most of my life, I’ve never read a book that describes suffering from panic attacks and anxiety as vividly and accurately as this one.

“My throat has seized up, and I’m sipping small bits of air. I have a lot of crying in me, but not a tear comes out. I’m just trying to breathe. It’s starting again, that need to get out of my body. My heart is hammering so fast it feels like one long beat on the verge of bursting. Death or something bigger and much less peaceful, feels so close, just over my shoulder.”

Casey self-sabotages many wonderful opportunities because of her anxiety. Anyone who has ever suffered from this affliction will know the guilt that goes along with making decisions based on it.

Writers & Lovers is a book that will crawl into your heart and one that you will keep thinking about long after you’ve read it.

Anne Doli
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