With a very original premise, this story centres around a split character born on the same day in the late 70s to the same parents – but in one reality, Louis is a boy and in the other Louise is a girl. From there, despite the same family, friends, home and dreams of being a writer, their lives diverge. After having followed different paths for many years, they both return home to see their dying mother and face up to a shocking incident that changed lives.
This masterfully crafted book explores a number of weighty topics, from gender identity to forgiveness, and makes for a compelling read. Definitely one of this year’s must-reads.
Centring around a couple’s love story in reverse, this novel kicks off in 2016, when Robbie wakes up and leaves the love of his life, Emily, a single rose and a note before an ocean swim. The story then backtracks through the years, revealing more about the relationship between the American boat builder and the English doctor. It soon becomes apparent that they share secrets that could tear their lives apart.
Cohen employed the interesting tactic of telling the story backwards, and it meant you had to pay attention to pick up the clues. However, my interest in what was going on waned at times and I wasn’t as engaged in Robbie and Emily’s relationship as I had expected. But the secret when it comes – back in 1962 when the couple first met - made the whole book worthwhile.
Felicity Bloom leads a good life together with her husband Quinn, who loves her to the moon and back and is willing to do whatever it takes to make Felicity happy. Together they live in a beautiful cottage in a small town, close to Quinn's family, and they've settled in very nicely. Then one day Felicity starts to smell the sweet flowery scent of frangipani in the air, a smell that immediately brings back memories of her ex-boyfriend and first love, Ewan. Felicity starts to smell the distinctive scent more and more often and it is somehow combined with deep feelings of love. But love for whom - Quinn or Ewan? Felicity finds herself starting to doubt everything in her life and she knows she will have to take a step back into the past to discover what it is she is feeling.
Where Love Lies is a unique story and I can honestly say I've never read anything quite like it before. The book deals with some serious and fascinating topics and Julie Cohen's writing is simply wonderful; so captivating and descriptive, easily bringing the story to life with her writing style. I was intrigued by mainly Felicity's character from the first few pages and was really curious to see what would happen to her and how things would eventually work out for her and Quinn.
While reading, I had mixed feelings when it came to Felicity. One moment I really felt for her and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending for her, but at other times she made me quite angry with the decisions she made. Quinn is a wonderful husband and I think many female readers will develop a little crush on him, just like I did. I really cared about the two of them as a couple and I can't even start to imagine what it would be like if something like this would happen to someone I love. Once again, Julie Cohen has managed to treat us to a thought-provoking, original and heart-wrenching read that definitely made an impact. (JoH)
Claire is shattered when her latest IVF treatment fails and tells husband Ben that she has given up hope of ever having a child. But then Ben's friend, Romily, a single mother, offers to be their surrogate. At first Claire is worried that anyone could selflessly give up a baby she has carried but Romily reassures them that she doesn't want another child. And she would love to repay them for all the support they have given her and daughter Posie over the years. But there is one thing that Romily hasn't told them - she's been in love with Ben for years.
This is a beautifully told and compelling story which leaves readers wondering how the issue will be resolved. Cohen has given great depth to the characters and her handling of such an emotional subject takes her writing to a whole new level.
LA-based stuntwoman Liza, having recovered from a stunt gone wrong, has returned to her English hometown to attend a charity dance organised by her identical twin Lee. But Lee seems to have disappeared. Mistaken by the villagers as her sister, Liza - relishing the opportunity of being treated as the likeable, responsible one for once - keeps pretending to be Lee. She takes over the family's ice-cream company, looks out for her ailing mother but evens the bad twin draws the line at assuming her place in Lee's boyfriend's life.
This is a really enjoyable life swap story about one sister getting away from it all, while the other learns she is more capable than she ever thought.
Comic book illustrator Fil Brown hangs out with her nerdy friends - winning pub quizzes and watching X-Files marathons. When one of the usually socially inept group, Stevo, drifts away after finding himself a mate, she and the others, Jim and Digger, swear a pact (partly in Klingon) that they will forsake all romantic relationships. On the workfront, Fil finds her comic Girl From Mars is about to get a big shake-up, thanks to the grandson of the creator, who wants to inject some romance into the heroine's life - and as it turns out Fil's as well.
Read this for a totally different type of heroine. You may well get into the Girl From Mars comic story just as much as Fil's.
The Day of Second Chances
The Summer of Living Dangerously
Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom
One Night Stand
Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak