Fingerprint identification has been used for over a century as it is proven that  fingerprints vary between two individuals. Fingerprints not only vary between two individuals, they also vary between your own fingers as you have a unique print of every finger of yours. But as we present ourselves in our style of dressing, behaviour and conduct,  we appear to each have an identity of our own, I believe we are not really that  different from  each other unlike our fingerprints. It would seem that when you put on a mask, you will not be identifiable.

After my weekly gym session, I threw on my favourite big white shirt from Zara and started running my errands. Normally I would grab a coffee before starting my errands run but since I was going to meet my sister,  coffee would wait.  I had a small window of twenty minutes or so before fetching her, I decided to tick off the first task on my shopping list . Due to the pandemic, shopping is quite a bother as you have to sign in upon walking into a shop wearing a mask. You no longer walk into a shop just to hang or look around,  you walk into a shop only if you need something from the shop. I walked into an organic shop with my mask on, feeling a little flustered after parking the car and registering by scanning the QR code using the phone App. The reflection on the glass entrance made it a little tricky to capture the code. Despite having driven for decades, at times I still cannot get the wheels aligned right away and that was one of those mornings when I spent a good five minutes or more just to straighten the wheels. I stepped into the organic shop. A customer was walking towards the cashier’s desk, she stopped and looked at me and suddenly she exclaimed, you are beautiful. She gestured at me and my ensemble. I managed to  thank her without feeling too awkward. Since it was mandatory to leave mask on, I certainly did not want to take off my mask in case she would be disappointed. Flatteries and kind words brightened up my day.  

Writers & Lovers written by Lily King is  an  enjoyable read. It is 1997, Casey Peabody, an aspiring writer  has arrived in Massachusetts without a plan. She is struggling to finish writing her first novel that she has spent  six years working on. She tries not to think about the crushing weight of her college loan debts. She is bereft about her mother’s unexpected death and also grieving about ending a love affair with a poet whom she met at  a writing residency that she attended six weeks after her mother’s passing.

The narration is  in the protagonist’s voice. You sense her loss.

In the morning I ache for my mother. But late at night it is Luke I mourn for.’

She walks her landlord’s dog and waitress at Iris, a busy restaurant. When she catches herself in the mirror at the sink, she sees herself ‘looking beat up, like someone who has gotten ill and aged a decade in a few months. I look into my eyes, but they aren’t really mine, not the eyes I used to have. They’re the eyes of someone very tired and very sad, and once I see them I feel even sadder and then I see that sadness, that compassion, for the sadness in my eyes, and I see the water rising in them.’

All her writing friends have given up their writing dreams except for Muriel Becker who has been working on a novel set in World War II. There was Russell who appeared to be rigid and disciplined, got up at four thirty every morning to write , ran five miles before going to work at a library. ‘But he was the first to surrender and go to law school. He  is a tax attorney in Tampa now.’

Then there was Abby who took up realtor’s exam on her aunt’s advice and later she tried to tell Casey that she was using her imagination when she walked through the houses and invented a new life for her clients. There was also Nia who chucked her novel and married a Milton scholar ‘with excellent posture and a trust fund’.

Casey keeps writing, renting a potting shed from her brother’s college friend, Adam.

One day Adam asks Casey how many pages she has written and after hearing her reply, he mocks,

I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say.’

In Casey’s narration, she thinks to herself.

I don’t write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don’t everything feels even worse.’

At thirty-one, it feels strange not being the youngest kind of adult any more. Casey seems directionless but her one constant is the novel she has been writing. She is also a former child golf prodigy but she has since given that up. There are unresolved issues about her estranged dad and her only relation is a brother who lives miles away from her. One day, Muriel takes her to a book launch party for Oscar Kolton,  a famous writer who leads a fiction workshop  and later he becomes one of her  two love interests.

The novel is a moving story about  how hard  it can be to believe in yourself and  stay the course in working  towards your dreams. The author’s beautiful writing draws us into the character of  Casey, a quiet and elusive heroine who knows fully well that the novel she has been writing is her home and one place where she can retreat to despite all the uncertainties surrounding her life.  It is a story about Casey’s choices and sacrifices in holding onto her writing dream.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King is gorgeously written.

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