Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen – A Review

Publisher: Orion

Publication Date: 24th Jan 2019

The premise of this story sounded so fascinating to me that I had to jump aboard the blog tour!

A story told from two perspectives but one life lived. The only thing separating the two lives is the sex announced at their birth and the ‘e’ at the end of one of their names.

Louis and Louise have the same parents, live in the same hometown, have the same best friends Benny and Allie. They have the same red hair, the same talent for whistling and the same love of writing.

But what would happen if one life was lived completely differently based on gender. What opportunities and events are different for both Louis and Louise?

Born in 1978 (same year as myself incidentally) to parents Peggy and Irving Alder, Louis (male) and Louise (female obvs!) grow up, in separate realities, in small town Casablanca.

With a large paper mill in their family on their father, Irving’s side, Louis and Louise start life very affluently. The mill is the main source of employment in the town and its paper is used in high class magazine production. When fortunes for the mill take a turn when Louis and Louise turn 18, the repercussions set events spiralling which have profound effects on their adult lives.

Returning to Casablanca in their 40’s as their mother Peggy is ill, Louis and Louise are thrown back into small town life and are forced to confront faces and events from their past.

It’s a very interesting premise to see how differently one life could turn out based merely on the gender of the person, and it was fascinating to see how the people around the two Lou’s interact with them and forge relationships with them. Not least with the parents Peggy and Irving.

Events which happen on one night are the catalyst for both Lou’s leaving small town life but ultimately being drawn back in to face their mother’s illness and also put to rest some demons which have plagued them since their late teens.

This book tackles some hard hitting subjects and some massive differences in the lives of the two Lou’s based souly on their gender, but also shows some subtly nuanced ways in which the two lives are different. The differing chapters told from the two different view points were never confusing despite them both being referred to as ‘lou’ for a lot of the time. It was always clear who’s life you’d jumped into.

I really enjoyed the depictions of small town life, the often claustrophobic, prejudiced mindset of the inhabitants of Casablanca and the way in which this shaped Louis and Louise and had influence on their decisions.

This book is one of those which makes you sit back and think what if? What if I’d have been born the opposite sex.

It’s an interesting subject which is explored superbly in this book, in Julie Cohen’s inimitable style.

Thank you so much to the publisher for the review copy and up Tracey Fenton for allowing me to be part of the blog tour.

See you all soon.

Bookish Chat xxx

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