As a portrait of grief, Writers and Lovers is exquisite. Casey feels trapped in looping circles of sadness; in one striking scene, she feels sorry for both herself and her reflection, “sad for an infinite number of my selves”. The central love triangle is (intentionally, one feels) less captivating, and it’s disappointingly unmessy, too.
Casey is a writer before she’s a lover, with many of the nicest passages reserved for literary veneration (one fictional character is “remembered with more tenderness and love than most of the boys she’s ever known”). This makes for an at times baggy novel, but it’s a warm and buoyant romance – all the better for adulating books above boys.
Writers in fiction are usually embittered or blocked, but one of the pleasures of King’s warm, funny and sharply observed novel is Casey’s grit and passion, undimmed despite it all...
As an inadvertent love triangle develops and the grief Casey keeps under wraps threatens to burst out, the story becomes an affecting, uplifting exploration of the risks and rewards of opening up.
Writers & Lovers succeeds in all its particulars. There’s romance, there’s a moral journey and there are characters with amusing foibles. What’s more, the gags are impeccable. It’s a story sweetly poised between hard truths and hilarity, in which the heroine discovers she has what it takes to not only endure but prevail. And that’s a message we all need in these difficult times.