Book Review: Lily And The Octopus

Title: Lily and the Octopus

Author: Steven Rowley

Genre: Adult Fiction / Dogs

Pages: 307

Rating: ★★★★☆

This is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without.

For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog.

Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels 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.

Aw guys, this book. As soon as I picked it up I knew that it was going to make me cry, and boy did I cry. Big fat ugly-cry… but hey, it was worth it for this quirky and endearing read.

Ted is a 42 year-old man who is reeling from the aftermath of the end of a long-term relationship. Ted has a crappy psychiatrist, a dependency on Valium, and is devastated when he realises that the octopus may cut his time with his beloved dachshund Lily short.

The ‘octopus’ is the term that Ted uses to refer to the tumour that is growing on Lily’s head. Lily is 12.5 years old, 87 in human-years, and Ted is grappling with the difficult fact that it may be time to let her go.

I adored the relationship between Lily and Ted SO MUCH. They loved each other fiercely. I really enjoyed the way that the author made Lily ‘talk’ to Ted, especially when she was excited and she used exclamation points between each word. It really helped to showcase her personality and it made her feel almost human.

This story isn’t just about sad times, it’s also about happy memories, adventures, learning how to take control and stand up for yourself and your loved ones, and also about learning how to grieve and let go.

The writing style was very engaging and the characterisation was great. Lily is the perfect pupper; devoted, full of love and joy and enthusiasm. Ted and Lily share everything together, from pizza to monopoly nights (not sure how exactly, but it happened), to movies and conversations about cute guys.

Sometimes, though, Ted confused me – I wasn’t ever sure if he was just kind of funny or slightly crazy or perhaps just addled by alcohol – because it seemed that he seriously believed that the tumour was an octopus and he was so obsessed with the thing. The whole Pelagic Zone section threw me off-guard because the story suddenly went from realistic-fiction to this fantastical adventure and I was like, WHAT! IS! GOING! ON! HERE!

One of the things I would have liked to have seen a bit more of is Ted’s back story. I wanted to know more about his relationship with Jeffrey and where things went wrong. I also wanted more Lily, because she was so darn cute.

One of my favourite things in this story was the concepts that came up about the way that dogs live. It was pointed out several times that dogs are so happy because they live in the present – they don’t worry about the future and they don’t dwell on the past. This was something that Ted really needed to learn, and is probably something that a lot of us need to learn too.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. The ending was beautiful and made me make a lot of what Lily would call ‘eye-rain’. I hate the octopus so much! Lily and the Octopus will make you laugh and will make you cry – so make sure you have some tissues on hand.

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