Summary and book reviews of Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus

by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2016, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2017, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

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About this Book

Book Summary

Combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, Lily and the Octopus is an epic adventure of the heart.

When you sit down with Lily and the Octopus, you will be taken on an unforgettable ride.

The magic of this novel is in the read, and we don't want to spoil it by giving away too many details.

We can tell you that 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.

Remember the last book you told someone they had to read?

Lily and the Octopus is the next one.

Excerpt
Lily and the Octopus

It's Thursday the first time I see it. I know that it's Thursday because Thursday nights are the nights my dog, Lily, and I set aside to talk about boys we think are cute. She's twelve in actual years, which is eighty-four in dog years. I'm forty-two, which is two hundred and ninety-four in dog years—but like a really young two hundred and ninety-four, because I'm in pretty good shape and a lot of people tell me I could pass for two hundred and thirty-eight, which is actually thirty-four. I say this about our ages because we're both a little immature and tend to like younger guys. We get into long debates over the Ryans. I'm a Gosling man, whereas she's a Reynolds gal, even though she can't name a single movie of his that she would ever watch twice. (We dropped Phillipe years ago over a disagreement as to how to pronounce his name. FILL-a-pea? Fill-AH-pay? Also because he doesn't work that much anymore....

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Ted agonizes over the fact that Lily's octopus has gone unnoticed by both of them for so long. Discuss how he internalizes his grief, transforming it into guilt. How would you react in his shoes?
  2. The book is divided into eight sections, each with an octopus-related theme. What other octopus imagery and symbolism did you find in the book?
  3. Ted hates "living in the not knowing" (p. 31). How does this aversion to uncertainty affect his personal relationships? Do you think this attitude changes over the course of the novel?
  4. There is a level of trust shared between Ted and Lily that does not seem to extend to the humans in his life. Discuss how trust requires a kind of courage that humans find difficult to muster. Is it possible to ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

While the novel's overriding themes are grief, loss and letting go, the story is buoyed by humor, whimsy and sweetness without making light of the subject matter. I especially recommend Lily and The Octopus to people who understand the powerful bond between dogs and their owners, but really, I think anyone who enjoys emotionally authentic and redemptive stories filled with humor, heart and imagination will find this a satisfying read.   (Reviewed by Sharry Wright).

Full Review Members Only (623 words).

Media Reviews

Library Journal

This funny and heartbreaking first novel will appeal to dog lovers, especially those who have had to face the harder aspects of giving their love to a creature who will return that adoration perfectly but for a far too brief time.

Kirkus Reviews

In his funny, ardent and staunchly kooky way, Rowley expresses exactly what it's like to love a dog

Publishers Weekly

Sensitive, hilarious, and emotionally rewarding ... Rowley has written an immensely poignant and touchingly relatable tale that readers (particularly animal lovers) will love.

Booklist

Starred Review. An exceedingly authentic, keenly insightful, and heartbreakingly poignant tribute to the purity of love between a pet and its human.

Author Blurb Garth Stein, bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
Steven Rowley's touching, fresh, energetic novel isn't simply another 'boy and his dog' story. It is a profound exploration of grief - how we find ourselves lost, how we search for reason, how we sacrifice ourselves for our loved ones, all to avoid paying the octopus. But the octopus will be paid ... A wonderfully moving story.

Author Blurb Christina Baker Kline, bestselling author of Orphan Train
You will tear through this big-hearted, inventive novel. A fast and funny read that also happens to be a profound meditation on love and forgiveness, Lily and the Octopus is a delight.

Author Blurb Chris Cleave, bestselling author of Little Bee
Singular, spectacular, and touchingly tentacular.

Author Blurb Sara Gruen, bestselling author of Water for Elephants
A quirky and deeply affecting charmer of a novel, Lily and the Octopus is funny, wise, and utterly original in its exploration of what it means to love any mortal creature. This brave little dachshund will capture your heart, as will her prickly, tenderhearted, and irresistible owner. Don't miss their adventures together.

Author Blurb Graeme Simsion, bestselling author of The Rosie Project
Intelligently written, finely observed, and surprisingly moving, this is a book you'll find hard to put down.

Author Blurb Patrick Ness, bestselling author of The Rest of Us Just Live Here
My favorite book of the year: Steven Rowley's Lily and the Octopus. Hilarious, heartbreaking. You will absolutely cry and you will love it.

Reader Reviews

Stephanie

How Can You Not Love This Book!
It's got an adorable dog. It's got a guy who loves the adorable dog. In addition, he named the dog Lily (as opposed to something like Schnitzel) because he knew the dog was going to be his friend, his companion and possibly the most important ...   Read More

Paula Jacunski

Exceptional!
If you've had a deep connection with an animal, you might like this book. It is true, fanciful, sad, magical, and overwhelming. It's still with me.

Vera Mallard

Love In It's Highest Form Unconditional And Unending
What an emotional heart wrenching roller coaster story of love, grief, acceptance, and letting go! I have read several books I felt I was not skilled enough in prose to do justice; this is one of those books. I hope this review will inspire you to...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Dachshund

In Lily and The Octopus, the main character struggles with the decline of his beloved canine companion, a charming dachshund named Lily. Famously described by the German-American journalist, H. L. Mencken, as "a half-a-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long," dachshunds are one of the most popular dog breeds in America. Affectionately called doxies by dachshund lovers, they are also often referred to as wiener dogs. It was the wiener sausage that was named after the dog, originally called dachshund sausage, before they were called hot dogs.

A dachshund Dachshunds are described as bold, confident, intelligent, and alert, with strong hunting instincts, and a keen nose good for trailing. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dachshunds were ...

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