I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of Louis & Louise today as part of the blog tour for which I’m forever grateful, as always, to the wonderful Tracy Fenton for the invite.
About this book…
ONE LIFE. LIVED TWICE.
Louis and Louise are the same person born in two different lives. They are separated only by the sex announced by the doctor and a final ‘e’.
They have the same best friends, the same red hair, the same dream of being a writer, the same excellent whistle. They both suffer one catastrophic night, with life-changing consequences.
Thirteen years later, they are both coming home.
A tender, insightful and timely novel about the things that bring us together – and those which separate us, from the author of Richard & Judy recommended book Together
Another wonderful book from Julie Cohen that has made me sob my heart out, whilst wondering how in the hell she does it time and time again! Louis & Louise is such a unique and unpredictable literary pleasure that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from its pages, gulping down the beautifully expressed “sliding door” scenarios as if to quench my thirst for the perfect conclusions. This is inspiring fiction that explores identity, gender equality and family in a stylish but provocative way, enticing the reader into the lives of one person, who’s path has only been twisted by their sex at birth. In one journey, the baby born to Irving and Peggy is a boy, Louis, and in another a baby girl called Louise is welcomed into the world by those same parents.
The story shows how the different characters grow up and how a traumatic event on the night of their high school graduation affects their portal into adulthood. It’s not as confusing as it sounds. We see events happening through the eyes of both characters but there are also chapters where the character of Lou is going through exactly the same life experience with no mind of whether they are the male or female persona.
Set within the small town of Casablanca, Maine where the paper factory is the largest employer in the area, Louis & Louise perfectly portrays the environment that Lou is brought up in but also uses the “small town” mentality to great effect to explain what goes wrong leading up to graduation night. It’s a social observation that’s incorporated into the plot with great effect and also leads to some very moving experiences as the harsh realities of their ordeals lead to some life changing decisions. I didn’t find it weird that Lou was just one character defined in two different ways, I found it intriguing and fascinating to watch the outcomes.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough! It was a joy to read, even though the subject matter was not one designed for light entertainment. It used some of our own preconceived ideas of gender identity in an insightful and thought provoking exploration of a life lived simultaneously. It’s stunning!
Meet the author…
Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for The Guardianand Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold nearly a million copies; DEAR THING was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.
You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website: http://www.julie-cohen.com.