Thursday, 14 February 2019

Book Review: Louis & Louise (Contemporary Fiction)

Louis & Louise
Julie Cohen

Publisher: Orion
Publication date: 29th January 2019
Pages: 304
RRP: $29.99
Format Read: Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of Hachette Aus via Books on the Rail


If you could look at one life in two different ways, what would you see?

Louis and Louise are separated by a single moment in time, a strike of chance that decided their future. The day they were born is when their story begun.

In one, Louis David Alder is born a male.
In the other, Louise Dawn Alder is born a female.

Louis and Louise are the same in many ways - they have the same best friends, the same parents, the same dream of being a writer and leaving their hometown in Maine as soon as they can. But because of their gender, everything looks different.

Certain things will happen in their lives to shape them, hurt them, build them back up again. But what will bring them back home?

Cohen’s idea of the same person living two lives, one as a female and one as a male simultaneously is novel and intriguing.
Louise Dawn Alder is born to Peggy and Irving Alder on 8th September 1978 and
Louis David Alder is born to Peggy and Irving Alder on 8th September 1978.

In the ensuing story the combined child is Lou. They pretty much do everything the same; climbing, whistling, talking but slowly small differences start to emerge by their 4th year. Lou is best friends with twins Allie and Benny and it was interesting to see how the twin’s lives differed because of their friend’s gender.

The stories diverge at times and the chapters are headed by either Louise or Louis and we see how their lives take different paths, even though their dreams were very similar when they were younger, but it was not only Louis and Louise’s life that was altered but also those of the people around them. Showing how some choices have a domino effect, affecting others.

The town of Casablanca and the Paper Mill have important parts in the story. The residents of Casablanca, a small town in Maine, rely on the paper mill for their livelihood, either working in the mill or providing services to mill workers. The mill, owned my Lou’s grandfather is the lifeblood of the town but when the workers strike it tears the town apart and creates a rift in the friendship of Lou, Allie and Benny.

With a main theme of gender Cohen also explores small town communities, death, divorce, cancer clusters, love, pain and forgiveness.

A unique concept and emotively written, certainly food for thought. Do you treat your sons and daughters differently?

Content: coarse language
                  sexual references
                  violent scenes

My rating:  8/10

photo credit: Hachette Australia

Julie Cohen studied at Brown University, earning a summa cum laude degree with honours in English.

She moved to the UK to pursue a postgraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Reading and this was followed by a career teaching English at secondary level.

She has written twenty books, including the Richard and Judy Book Club pick Dear Thing. She lives with her husband, a guitar tech for rock bands, and their son in Berkshire, where she writes full time.
You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Facebook  ||  Twitter  ||  Website  



  1. This sounds like a really interesting read.

  2. This concept interests me - thanx for the info

  3. Ok this looks really good, thanks for sharing!!

  4. This sounds very unique. Wonderful review

  5. Lovely review. I've looked at the book a few times but can't decide whether to read it or not.

  6. I love this premise!!! I've always been really curious about how those micro-moments and tiny differences affect the way a life turns out (the rock changes the river and all that). I don't know how I haven't come across this one before, thank you so much for sharing!!

    1. Thank you Sheree. I hope you get to read it. It certainly was intriguing.

  7. Wow! Love the sound of this one.

  8. This sounds intriguing, I'll put my request in at the library