Meet Louis Drax, the Amazing Accident-Prone Boy.
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 clinic.
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.
I'm not most kids. I'm Louis Drax. Stuff happens to me that shouldn't happen, like going on a: picnic where you drown.
Just ask my maman what it's like being the mother of an accident-prone boy and she'll tell you. No fun. You can't sleep, wondering where it's going to end. You see danger everywhere and you think, Got to protect him, got to protect him. But sometimes, you can't.
Maman hated me before she loved me because of the first accident. The first accident was being born. It happened the same way as the emperor Julius Caesar. They stab the lady with a knife till her belly pops, and then they yank you out, all yelling and covered in blood. They thought I wouldn't make it out in the normal way, see. (Also gross.) Plus they thought she would die from it too, like Julius Caesar's mum, and they'd have to put our dead bodies in coffins, a big one for her and a kid-size one for me. Or maybe they'd put us both in the same...
Liz Jensen has written four books before this, but she describes The Ninth Life as her first 'grown up' book.
If you liked The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, try these:
'Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy.'
A ghost story with a twista suspenseful and poignantly funny update of the Hamlet story.
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