Louis Drax is a boy like no other. He is brilliant and strange, and every
year something violent seems to happen to him. His psychologist is baffled, and
his mother lives in constant panic. He has always managed to survive to land
on his feet, like a cat. But cats have only nine lives, and Louis has used up
eight, one for every year.
On his ninth birthday, Louis goes on a picnic with his parents and falls off
a cliff. The details are shrouded in mystery. Louis's mother is shell-shocked;
his father has vanished. And after some confusion Louis himself, miraculously
alive but deep in a coma, arrives at Dr. Pascal Dannachet's celebrated coma
Was the fall a mere accident? If anyone knows, they're not telling. Until
one day, still deep within his coma, Louis meets the bandaged figure who calls
himself Gustave, and begins to tell his tale
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax is the story of a family falling apart,
told in the vivid voices of its comatose son and Dr. Dannachet as he is drawn
into the Draxes' circle. Full of astonishing twists and turns, this is a
masterful tale of the secrets the human mind can hide.
Liz Jensen says.... "The inspiration for Louis Drax
came from my own grandmothers death in Switzerland in the 1930s. Her body was
found at the bottom of a cliff, three days after her eldest son had
vanished from the face of the earth. The mystery of how my grandmother died, and
what happened to her lost son, was never solved. It cast a shadow across the
whole family, and when I first heard it as a child, it haunted me.
But I didnt want to write that story. Instead, I wanted to explore the
emotions it evoked. I wanted to write something from the point of view of a
young boy because I love the way my own boys talk, and I wanted to capture that
playground idiolect. I dont think that when I started writing the novel, it
was going to turn out so dark. But it ended up as a ghost story. If it has an
unsettling effect on people, Im glad. Its meant to. It was sometimes
harrowing to write, because it took me to places I didnt really want to go.
But thats part of what writing is about. Its the risk and its the
adventure. And reading is the same.
For everybody who thought they'd never see another novel like The Lovely Bones, a neurologist in Provence struggles to get a comatose nine-year-old to tell what put him into a persistent vegetative state. ....By turns disarmingly comical, absorbingly suspenseful, and finally shattering.
Starred Review. Jensen's gift for black humor and off-kilter narratives shines throughout this page-turner, and her understanding of fractured psyches and their ability to heal is remarkable. The idiosyncrasies of her peculiar characters only make them more engaging, and at the end of Jensen's gripping tale, the reader is left eager for more.
Booklist - Joanne Wilkinson
Here is the breakout novel--a literary thriller that's almost impossible to put down--for British writer Jensen (Egg Dancing, 1996).....This is sure to remind readers of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Assured, hilarious, and insightful.
Mail on Sunday
Jensen is becoming one of our best writers, sometimes surreal, sometimes down to earth, always with a great and embracing human sympathy.
Sharp, funky, funny, and prophetic.
Anthony Minghella, director of The English Patient and Cold Mountain
Liz Jensen has written a remarkable suspense novel: tart, mysterious, and wrenching.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Sarah It might deserve a 3.65 Overall, this book really wasn't bad. I just wish that it had a better ending. At first I was very interested in the characters, and really enjoyed the the writing, but toward the end I couldn't have cared much less. Louis starts to take a... Read More
Rated of 5
by Erica Louis Drax is a good read I started this book and put it down, finding the manner in which Louis was talking at first, very offensive. I decided to give it another try, and I was glad I did. Although I was able to guess at the climax, because of the foreshadowing, there... Read More
Liz Jensen has written four books before this, but
she describes The Ninth Life as her first 'grown up' book.
Egg Dancing (1996): 'Yes, the story is often overwhelmed by delusions,
hallucinations and trips through altered reality. But Jensen has a real
gift for wickedly black humor - and enough stylistic panache to hold a
reader's attention firmly through the thicket of her excesses.'
Ark Baby (UK 1998, US 1999): 'Strained would-be satire, with its intellectual
and narrative punch diluted by very obvious foreshadowing.' (Kirkus
Paper Eater (2000 in UK, apparently not available in the US):
'Funny and richly imagined, this is as timely a warning about rampant
consumerism as Orwell's 1984 was about state control'
A ghost story with a twista suspenseful and poignantly funny update of the Hamlet story.
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