A Novel Obsession by Caitlin Barasch
Published by Dutton Books
Publication date: March 15, 2022
Given my love of books about books A Novel Obsession seemed an easy choice when I saw it at the library. Naomi is a 20-something aspiring writer. She lives in NYC and works in a bookstore, leaving her time to work on her first novel. Except, her life has been unremarkable, leaving her without the material she needs to create readable fiction or so she believes. When she gets a new boyfriend, an idea presents itself, but will it help her writing and hurt her relationship? Or can she find a balance between the two?
Caleb seems perfect for Naomi. He’s handsome, smart, and caring. As they begin the sharing process of getting to know each other he tells her he moved from Wales to NYC because his girlfriend lived here. Naomi latches onto this and elicits enough information about the ex, Rosemary, to find her online. From there, her writing output increases in proportion to her insertion in Rosemary’s life. The two become friends with Naomi lying to both Caleb and Rosemary to keep her true identity and activities separate. This hide-and-seek escalates as does Naomi’s paranoia. She takes greater risks with Rosemary, an editor, all in pursuit of the story she believes will establish her career.
I initially DNFed A Novel Obsession at 50%. Naomi’s actions made no sense to me. Even going along with the credo that writers ‘live to write’ and Naomi can’t help herself, it’s a flimsy excuse as best. She uses it to rationalize stalking and obsession, all while ignoring a man who really seems to like her. I came back to the book based on two high ratings from readers I trust, but although I finished, I never found anything other than the self-destructive journey of an uninteresting narcissist.