#Blogtour Spirited by Julie Cohen @julie_cohen @orionbooks @Leanne_oliver1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Spirited

Spirited by Julie Cohen Orion July 9th 2020

Book Synopsis

Three women carry unspeakable truths in their heart. At what cost will they find their freedom?

In Victorian England, Viola is an amateur photographer struggling with the grief of her father’s death and the sterile atmosphere of her marriage to her childhood friend, Jonah. When she discovers a talent for capturing ghostly images on camera, Viola comes to the attention of a spirit medium, and a powerful attraction between the two women is sparked… As each woman puts herself at risk, secrets are brought to light that will change their lives forever.

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters Cohen explores themes of sexuality, gender and prejudice, firmly establishing her as one of our best storytellers.

My Review

There was so much to Spirited it was hard to know where to start. What I will start with is the characters, Viola and Henriette, two women in Victorian England, where men ruled the roost, knew what women needed and what they should doing.

Viola, grief stricken after her Father’s death was fragile, vulnerable and what better place for her to find solace, comfort and stability than marriage to childhood friend Jonah. But what if Jonah was also troubled, nursed a heartache he could confide in no one. Cohen left us in no doubt of their sense of duty to Viola’s dead father, to carry out his wishes, but portrayed a marriage that whilst it had love, had no passion as Viola and Jonah pushed a wedge between them, pulled further and further apart. You could sense their need to maintain respectability as they made a new home on the Isle of Portland.

I have to confess they frustrated me, but I knew it was the Victorian way and it wasn’t until Henriette’s arrival that I knew somehow Cohen would make us and them begin to question their situation.

Henriette was the complete opposite to Viola, outgoing, colourful, a woman who defied the confines of the society she lived in. Did I like her? Not at first, as Cohen described her humble beginnings, from poverty, life as a maid, who used her intelligence and a need to better herself, to attain what the people she served had got.

Henriette’s occupation as a spiritualist I found extremely interesting, and Cohen had obviously done her research. The trickery, the intense feelings and ambience she created were brilliant as were the reactions of her audience. You had to ask yourself if you agreed with her motives, her wilful deceptions, and it wasn’t until she encouraged Viola to restart her photography and a chain of events that you had the sense there was something more than mere financial gain for Henriette.

Cohen cleverly used her narrative to unravel her characters, and you silently cheered as Viola became stronger, more resilient as she realised she didn’t have to settle for what she had, that happiness could be hers. Henriette seemed to find something she had always found lacking, and I found I began to like and indeed admire her.

What I didn’t like was the stuffy attitude of the men, men out to safeguard their own standing, determined to put women in the corner, destroy their reputations at any cost. And it wasn’t just England, as through the eyes of Jonah, Cohen transported us to India, and the lack of education denied to women, their place very definitely in the home.

Themes of British imperialism, the need to quash the culture of those it ruled, the disrespect and sheer self importance were stark, and made you feel slightly ashamed.

Cohen didn’t stop there, the realities of forbidden love, of same sex love drifted in, never in your face but subtle and understated.

How would it all unravel, what would be the outcome for Viola, Henriette and Jonah. Would Victorian society quash their rebelliousness, their feelings or would they be brave and strong and fight for what they truly wanted?

All questions Cohen answered in a novel that featured wonderful characters, interesting thought provoking themes and a compulsive immersive narrative that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I would like to thank Orion for a copy of Spirited to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for the Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold over a million copies; DEAR THING and TOGETHER were Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Her most recent novel is the critically acclaimed LOUIS & LOUISE. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.
You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website: http://www.julie-cohen.com.

One thought on “#Blogtour Spirited by Julie Cohen @julie_cohen @orionbooks @Leanne_oliver1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Spirited”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: