Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Bookmark: ‘Writers and Lovers’ by Lily King

A new column for readers and book lovers is here! First up: a Lily King book that will have you laughing, then crying, all in the same chapter.

The Bookmark

Graphic by Carmen Smoak

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for “Writers and Lovers” (2020).

Welcome to “The Bookmark,” your new go-to column for book reviews! Over the course of this semester, this column will be diving into a wide variety of books. Expect reviews on everything from long sci-fi novels, to poetry collections, to silly romances.

Let’s start this column out strong with a recent favorite read: “Writers and Lovers” (2020) by Lily King. This novel is smart, fun, reflective and just an all-around great read. It’s guaranteed to make you feel the full range of emotions, prompting you to laugh one second and cry the next. Narrator and protagonist Casey Peabody is very lovable in her awkwardness and determination to make it as a writer. We see her face the complexities of life: grief, love and, of course, geese. More on the geese thing later…

Quick plot summary: Casey is an extraordinarily normal girl; she’s headstrong, funny yet down-to-earth and overall an incredibly relatable character. Readers follow along with Casey’s daily struggles to succeed as a writer (hence the first half of the title) and to navigate her complicated love life (the other half of the title). Her love life is super complex and confusing, as she juggles several men, none of whom she’s particularly very invested in.

When one of the men — whom Casey is quasi-dating but not really because he’s much older and has kids — confesses his love to her, saying: “I like myself when I’m with you,” to which Casey replies: “I’m not sure that’s being in love with me, Oscar. That’s being in love with you.”  And with that statement, the reader’s love for Casey grows. She’s so perfectly blunt, authentic and she doesn’t put up with (too much) crap from the men in her life.

One of the reasons this book is so fun to read is because King’s writing style resembles that of Sally Rooney. The writing is clever, focusing on points of life that authors tend to stray away from. Both King and Rooney ‘pull back the curtain,’ so to speak, and let the reader feel a little uncomfortable. There are also aspects of this novel that resemble Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” (2017), the popular indie movie known for its beloved ‘quirkiness.’ Both “Lady Bird” and this novel honor the subtleties of life.

It is in these subtle moments that we see Casey’s emotions really come through — like in her connection with the geese and their symbolic tie to her mother.

“I sing to the geese. And I feel her. It’s different from remembering her or yearning for her. I feel her near me. I don’t know if she is the geese or the river or the sky or the moon. I don’t know if she is outside of me or inside of me, but she is here.”   

Throughout the novel, Casey returns to the geese as a way of processing her overwhelming grief from her mother’s death. The book ends with a final reflection on the geese, which feels slightly predictable, but still feels right: “Those geese are already home.”

I’ll leave you with one final line from the book that sums up the weirdness and simultaneous depth of Casey: “I start to sob, like a fearless blue giraffe.”

Summary “Writers and Lovers” explores and honors the beauty of the mundane through candid writing and a wonderfully normal protagonist.
5 Stars