If you’re looking for a good book to see you through this last stretch of winter, dive into ‘Lily and the Octopus’ by Steven Rowley. A work of heartbreaking beauty and love, this is much more than a story of a man and his dog – it’s a moving treatise on how we deal with loss.
Opening with a discussion on the various merits of the Ryans (Reynolds, Gosling, but not Phillippe), the Matts (Bomer and Damon), the Toms (Brady and Hardy), and the Chrises (Evans, Pine, Pratt and Hemsworth), it’s a veritable greatest hits of hunks, and an enthralling way to begin. This is no ordinary tale, filled as it is with whimsy and wit. Soon, we discover that Lily is a dachshund, Ted Flask is her adoring owner, and the octopus is an unwelcome visitor about to wreak the worst kind of havoc in their companionship.
While odd for some non-animal-lovers (Rowley anthropomorphizes Lily to such an extent that she plays board games, talks about guys, and even mans the steering wheel of a ship), for anyone who’s enjoyed the love and adoration of a pet, it’s not such a far cry from the truth. There are deeper layers of meaning at work here, particularly in the dream scenes, and an over-the-top voyage that strongly echoes the fight against one’s own nature in ‘Moby Dick’. More impressive than that, however, is the exploration of the gradual acceptance of grief for love lost. This encompasses all kinds of love – romantic, familial, unrequited and unconditional – and what happens when it ends, for whatever reason.
‘Lily and the Octopus’ reminds us that sometimes we need to break down, that it’s ok to cry, and if you love someone with all your heart, that love doesn’t ever really go away.