lily and the octopus

It’s taken me a while to digest Lily and the Octopus and mentally pop myself in front of the Mac to write a review. I read it in one night, with Lily and Ted getting right under my skin almost immediately. It gave me a mighty book hangover so I wanted to let it rest a while. If a book heaves a wave of emotion over you before the end of the first chapter, it really is something you mull over for a bit first.

Lily and The Octopus is a simple story, but a deep one, spanning over a decade. It’s a tale of Lily, a twelve year old daschund and her devoted owner Ted. Before you groan and roll your eyes, this is no Nicholas Sparks and certainly no schmaltz included! It’s clever, it’s quick witted, it’s personal, it’s not a movie version, it’s a REAL version. Steven Rowley’s writing is delicate, observant and so detailed you know every scar, hair and whisker on that character filled little bundle of fur.

Lily and Ted are a team, they have been for over a decade, until one day an unwelcome octopus arrives in their home. Try as they might. He. Just. Won’t. Leave. I can’t tell you anymore as it would spoil it for you, however I will say this book is for anyone who:-

  • Has loved unconditionally
  • Felt lonely and isolated
  • Popped a Valium and felt the wave of peace wash over and you the fear subside after a panic attack
  • Has felt helpless while a friend, a sibling or a loved one struggles
  • Who has drunk cocktails and laughed so hard you don’t think you will ever stop
  • Who has lied awake at 4am thinking about all the stupid things you did to a friend
  • Who has come home from work and chatted to your dog or cat about your day

For much of the book I kept forgetting Lily was a little daschund. The intelligent writing gets you thinking about all manner of people in your life, furry and four legged or otherwise. Animal, human, gay, straight, imaginary, or real; Love is LOVE. The highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and so the cycle goes.

I wasn’t sure a book would ever stay with me as much as Tom Houghton, but this one is up there. Equal in every way.

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5 out of 5


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lily and the octopus


The Book Blurb

‘Intelligently written, finely observed and surprisingly moving, this is a book you’ll find hard to put down’ Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project

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.