I loved the blurb from Chris Cleave on this book: “Singular, spectacular, and touchingly tentacular.” I don’t think I could sum it up any better than that. If you’re a dog lover, this moving novel will leave you weeping, or at least a little choked up. If you aren’t a dog person, though, don’t avoid this book. It’s not your run-of-the-mill dog fiction, which there seems to be a lot of these days. It’s really the story of a lonely man who’s hit a rough patch and can’t figure out where to take his life next. His beloved dachshund Lily is his anchor in life, but when suddenly he notices an “octopus” (or what most of us would call a tumor) on her forehead, he begins to come unmoored. In coping with her illness, he has to face a lot of things that he’s been holding in denial for a long time.
Every one of us comes to a point in life where everything seems to go wrong, and at some point we learn that we can’t always keep the people (and pets) that we love with us forever. This story beautifully captures what happens at this moment. While the hero of this story doesn’t necessarily deal with things in a conventional way, we can all relate to his predicament. This is a tender, gently humorous book filled with love and hope. If you like Fredrik Backman or Rachel Joyce, definitely give Lily and the Octopus a try. Just have the tissues ready.
P.S. Here’s a great short video where Steven Rowley talks about the book. It shows some pictures of the real Lily, who inspired the story.