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MAN’S BEST FRIEND

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Out now (Simon and Schuster)

Much has been written about the relationship between man and his so-called best friend but Lily and the Octopus, by debut novelist Steven Rowley, could well be the most successful look at the subject yet. Ted Flask is a 42-year-old gay writer recovering from a relationship breakdown and struggling to make a successful career for himself in Los Angeles. When he discovers a tumour in the shape of an octopus on the head of his pet dachshund Lily, his life is thrown into turmoil. Ted and Lily’s life together is wonderfully drawn and a delight to read, as is the imagined dialogue between the two. Lily’s a terrific character and Ted is an engaging, often hilarious narrator. But we soon discover just how lonely and broken he is. It’s in fighting the octopus that he gradually learns just how much he’s withdrawn from the outside world and realises that until he breaks his routine with Lily he won’t be able to fix what’s wrong with his life. So her impending death becomes a source of heartbreak but also possible redemption. An adorable and enriching book, Lily and the Octopus will leave you loving your pet that little more intensely but, more importantly, loving yourself a whole lot more, too.

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