Friday 1 February 2019

Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen #BlogTour @julie_cohen @orionbooks #LouisAndLouise @Tr4cyF3nt0n

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

Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen was published by Orion on 24 January 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, and to Tracy who invited me to take part in this Blog Tour.

I've been a fan of Julie Cohen's writing for quite a few years now and a new book from her is always an exciting thought. I had no idea what Louis & Louise was about until I held my pre-publication copy in my hand,

This is a quite extraordinary story, told skilfully and cleverly and I'm really struggling to put my feelings into words. Louis & Louise is unlike anything I've ever read in the past; it's a story that has made me think and consider things that I've not really thought about before. It's a brave and powerful story, handled deftly by this very talented author.

Peggy and Irving Adler's first and only child was born on 8 September 1978. The baby is called Lou most of the time, but it's official name is Louis .... and Louise.

Julie Cohen takes one child and gives it two life stories and we the reader watch how this plays out. We see how Louis and Louise are spoken to and treated differently by people, because of their gender.  We watch them grow, discover new relationships, deal with the feelings of the local community and witness tragedy and sadness.

Louis and Louis both leave the small mill town of Casablanca in Maine, USA. They leave under difficult circumstances and only return reluctantly when their mother is dying.

Whilst this is most certainly a novel that deals with gender issues, it is also a tender and powerful study in relationships in both families and in communities. For me, this is Julie Cohen's hugest strength; her ability to take ordinary people from an ordinary background and make them remarkable.
The small town of Casablanca is a wonderful character in itself, overshadowed by the paper mill which is owned by Lou's family. I really felt as though I'd visited; as though I'd walked down the street, eaten in the diner and baked a lasagne for a grieving family. The sense of place is incredible.

This is a complex and cleverly structured novel, and I suspect that it was not easy to put together. However, it flows seamlessly, and despite Louis and Louise experiencing different things, albeit with the same cast of characters, it is so perfectly constructed.
Whilst Lou is most certainly the lead character in this story, I was totally bowled over by Allie and Benny; twin brother and sister who were Lou's childhood friends. Louis and Louise have differing views of Allie and Benny; with different experiences and a whole new set of circumstances according to gender. I found these relationships particularly beautiful, and the questions raised by the experience of gender are multiple.
Whilst Louis and Louise certainly have differing experiences and their stories are separate, there is one particular scene that they experience as Lou; seeing the same thing, hearing the same thing and feeling the same emotions and this scene displays this author's incredible talent so well.

Whilst the reader could be left an emotional wreck, this is such an uplifting and enlightening novel that it raises the spirits so high.

Wise, wonderful and beautifully written. Louis & Louise a brave and adventurous story of love, friendship, differences and hope.

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 Guardian and 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:

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