The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen is a dark and depressing look at a mother with Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
0 out of 10 stars. This is one of those books that was not researched and had too many hands in the writing. It shows.
Natalie Drax is a young mother with Munchausen by Proxy, an illness that makes her harm her child to get attention. Over the course of the nine years of her son Louis’s life she repeatedly attempts to kill him. Finally, her husband intervenes when she attempts to poison Louis during a picnic. They argue and she pushes her husband off a cliff. Louis sees and joins his father, stepping off the cliff and falling to his death. Two hours later, he starts breathing again while in the morgue.
There are several issues with this novel. (1) The story is told through two point of views, Louis and his doctor Pascal. The Louis chapters are terribly written, I suspect the work of an editor with a heavy hand who has no clue how a nine year old child speaks. (2) The side story about Louis’s father Peter’s relationship with his ex-wife and her new husband was bizarre and so unnatural. It was almost comic. (3) The relationship between Louis’s mother Natalie and his doctor Allan Pascal was also more comic than real. (4) Louis is a brat. That he goes out of his way to make his mother miserable is your first clue that he is very aware that she is trying to kill him to gain attention. (5) On top of Louis’s other bizarre characteristics, he also thinks he knows more about people than the adults around him do. If he was particularly smart or intelligent, this would follow, but he’s actually on the dumb side with a bit of his attention-seeking mother in him.
This was written by a British author and the characters are French. I guess the Brits are used to stiff language that doesn’t flow well at all. It makes for difficult reading. The subject matter is also very dark and depressing. Here’s a mother who keeps trying to kill her son. Her husband knows it and doesn’t report her until finally she kills him too.
0 out of 10 stars. I can’t say that I’d recommend this novel to anyone. Someone mentioned it was a kid’s book. I don’t think so. I can’t imagine a mother who would want her child reading this. I particularly found it disturbing that Louis repeatedly killed his hamsters, acting out his mother’s attempts at killing him.
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