Tish takes a novel approach to Madeleine McCann case

WITHOUT promoting a stereotype, Tish Cohen has a very Jewish sounding name.

And Canada-born author Tish is, by all accounts, a very Jewish person. But until she was 24, she wasn’t.

She explained: “I grew up in an area of Toronto where all the kids were Jewish.

“I was raised without religion, although I was Protestant.

“I always felt envious of these Jewish kids because they and their families had something more substantial than mine.

“So I had this heavy-duty interest in Judaism since childhood.

“I’d love sleeping over at Jewish homes and going to the synagogue with other families.”

She did reveal that her uncle Paul Sills — co-founder of Chicago-based charity The Second City — is Jewish.

The 55-year-old, whose latest book The Summer We Lost Her (Simon & Schuster), was lured into Judaism’s positivity.

But it wasn’t until she married first husband Steve Cohen that she converted, initially to Reform, but then to Conservative.

“What I love about Judaism is that intense focus on family — the big dinners with all the food.

“I also love that it’s a very positive religion.

“All the sermons in the synagogue are very positive.”

Still living in Toronto, Tish said that the Jewish community is big and tight.

She labelled it a “mini-New York”, which, according to the latest figures, has 175,000 Jews.

Tish was, until recently, a member of the Beth Tzedec Synagogue in York, Toronto.

It is one of the largest conservative synagogue’s in Toronto, under Rabbi Steve Wernick, with around 2,000 members.

Tish has written many best-selling books, including Town House, Inside Out Girl, The Truth About Delilah Blue and The Search Angel.

She has also written four young adult novels — The Invisible Rules of the Zoe Lama, The One and Only Zoe Lama, Little Black Lies and Switch.

Her latest book, The Summer We Lost Her, draws inspiration from one of Britain’s biggest unsolved child disappearances — the case of Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine disappeared on the evening of May 3, 2007 from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, nine days before her fourth birthday.

The mother-of-two explained: “I was obsessed with the disappearance. I’ve watched and read everything because it’s just the saddest story on earth.

“I was watching what the parents were, and still are, going through — it really is every parent’s worst nightmare.

“I was also fascinated with how the parents were portrayed in the media and how we really don’t know what was going on with them.

“So this book is about a couple, called Matt and Elise Sorenson, who go to a lakeside cabin to reconnect as a family and their eight-year-old daughter goes missing.

“It’s an intense look at the marriage, which is already under strain, and how they handle the biggest nightmare you could imagine.”

The story didn’t start out life as a book, as it was supposed to be a screenplay.

But Tish’s agent told her that she needed to write a new book.

And it has been picked up for a television series.

Tish said: “It’s going to be along the lines of Big Little Lies. I don’t know where, when or how, but I’m pretty excited about it.

“My first novel, Town House, was sold to Hollywood before it was sold as a novel.

“I always write something secretly hoping that it’ll make some sort of screen, so I’m happy that this one has, too.

“So many of my books are based on real life, which also helps to convert something from page to screen.”

Tish isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, either, as she is working on another book which will be published in October.

“It’s something I’ve been wanting to write for years,” she explained.

“Sometimes a story will percolate for years, but you don’t have the time to write it. But this new book is something I’m very excited about.

“I can’t yet give you any details, other than it revolves around family and it’s about one small act of betrayal.”

Away from writing, Tish is spending her time building a cabin which is “off-grid”.

This will give her a chance to fish, ski and spend time with her family.

“My husband, Peter Auvinen, is a lawyer who does a lot of work in Scandinavia and London, which involves a lot of travelling.

“I love seeing the Jewish community in places where you don’t expect it.

“My ex-husband used to travel a lot to India and I used to love the Jewish community there.”


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