Cows Can’t Jump by Philip Bowne

Today I’m taking sharing a second book review on my book blog as part of the Cow’s Can’t Jump by Philip Bowne, published by Neem Tree Press blog tour organised by the lovely Anne Cater at the Random Things Tours. Thank you for providing a copy of the book – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by my gift.


17-year-old Billy has just left school with no A levels and he’s desperate to escape middle England. As a grave-digger, he’s working the ultimate dead-end job. Billy’s home life isn’t any better. In the evenings, he observes his dysfunctional family: his Grandad’s engaged to a woman half his age, his xenophobic Dad’s become obsessed with boxing, and he suspects his deeply religious Mum is having an affair. 

All the while, celebrities are dropping like flies and Britain is waiting for the EU referendum. Everything is changing, and Billy hates it.

Meeting Eva, though, changes everything. She’s Swiss, passionate about Russian literature, Gary Numan, windfarms and chai tea, and Billy gambles everything for a chance to be with her.

When things start to go wrong, Billy’s journey across Europe involves hitch-hiking with truckers, walking with refugees, and an encounter with suicidal cows. But the further he goes, the harder it is to be sure what he’s chasing – and what he’s running from.

My thoughts:

Thanks for visiting my book blog today for my review on this debut novel by Philip Bowne. This book won the Spotlight First Novel Prize from Adventures in Fiction, has been long listed for the Not The Booker Prize from the Guardian and left me laughing, blushing and feeling sad in places.

This is one of a handful of books I’ve read this year with a male main character. Billy is turning 18 in 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum and the American Presidential election. As the synopsis mentions, Billy is in the ultimate dead end job as a grave digger at the start of the book. However his life changes when he starts work at an International School and falls for Eva.

We follow Billy as he struggles with his jobs, his parents and his first big romance. When he tries to put the money together to visit Eva in Switzerland he ends up in more trouble. When he finally flies out to Switzerland, he ends up on a grand tour of Europe to find Eva. In a year when many of us are unable to travel, then join Billy as he treks across mainland Europe to meet the love of his life.

This book is full of so many interesting characters, including Christoph, the owner of the cows who can’t jump. I enjoyed how the story looked at Billy’s relationships with his family, work colleagues and the people he met on his travels. This book is modern, funny, tragic and poignant, a stunning debut novel, and I look forward to reading more by Philip Bowne in the future.

Author Bio:

Philip Bowne lives in London and works as a writer for The Wombles, a children’s entertainment brand. 

Like his protagonist, Billy, Phil attended a failing and severely under-resourced school in Bicester, Oxfordshire. However, unlike Billy, Phil ended up studying English Literature and Creative Writing at university.

While studying, Phil published short stories in literary magazines and anthologies in the UK, US, Canada and Germany. After graduating, Phil spent time in Europe and the US, working and volunteering in various roles and settings: repairing boats at Lake Como, housekeeping at a mountain lodge in California and working with charity Care4Calais in the former Calais ‘jungle’ refugee camp.Cows Can’t Jump is Phil’s debut novel, which he worked on while managing a bar in London. As well as a writer for The Wombles, Phil also works on a number of independent writing projects, including a musical set in 1970’s Soho and a sitcom set in a failing leisure centre.

By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum of teenagers. Adopter of dogs.

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