My enormous thanks to Elizabeth Preston at Simon and Schuster UK for a copy of Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley in return for an honest review. Lily and the Octopus was published on 14th July 2016 and is available for purchase from Amazon UK, Amazon US, W H Smith, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble and all good book sellers.
Lily and the Octopus
Companions come in all shapes and sizes.
Companionship lasts forever.
Lily and the Octopus is a novel about finding that special someone to share your life with.
For Ted Flask, that someone is Lily, and she happens to be a dog.
This novel reminds us how to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.
Reminiscent of The Life of Pi and The Art of Racing in the Rain, with spins into magic realism and beautifully evoked universal truths of love, loyalty and loss, a hilariously sardonic and not altogether reliable narrator, and one unforgettable hound who simple wisdom will break your heart and put it back together again, Lily and the Octopus captures the search for meaning in death and introduces a dazzling new voice in fiction.
My review of Lily and the Octopus
Lily and the Octopus is just a story about a man, Ted Flask, who loves his dog, Lily. There are really only a few characters explored, the Dachshund Lily, the narrator Ted and the ‘octopus’. It ought to have a high ‘So what?’ factor and yet it is so much more in a beautifully poignant, heart wrenching tale of love, loss and grief that I could relate to completely. Substitute my Dad for Lily as we deal with his own octopus, a recent devastating stroke, and every word felt like an echo of my very soul.
Steven Rowley writes with such passion in an allegorical, mystical and compelling manner. The narrator, Ted, is not altogether truthful and reliable at times and there are passages of surprising violence, but this only serves to underline the gut wrenching emotion he is feeling. There is rage, sorrow, anger and the deepest of love that is so all encompassing that towards the end I read with tears (or eye rain) streaming down my face. As well as Ted’s connection with Lily, we get to see a real man; one who struggles with a range of relationships with family, friends and potential boyfriends so that it is impossible not to want the best for him, to want to hold and comfort him too.
Alongside this emotion is also lightness of touch and humour. Self effacing and aware of his own ridiculousness the first person narrator is not above a wry and sarcastic turn of phrase. I found the writing really effective. The variety of sentence length, the vibrancy of the present tense, the naturalness of the dialogue, the touches of description all combine in a vibrant new voice that I think will be a huge success. Comparisons have been made with other writers and books but I think this is erroneous. Steven Rowley has a unique style of his own that is almost impossible to define. I cannot recommend Lily and the Octopus highly enough. To quote Lily I! LOVE! IT!