Monday, 10 December 2007

The Girls - a story of conjoined twins

I have always been fascinated by conjoined or Siamese twins so read with interest Lori Lansens' novel 'The Girls' about Rose and Ruby Darlen, the world's oldest craniopagus twins (=joined at the head).

Known simply as 'The Girls' they obviously go everywhere together, share everything but are quite different characters.

They make friends, fall in love, have jobs, love their parents and follow their dreams. But the Darlens are special. Now nearing their 30th birthday, they are history's oldest craniopagus twins.

When Rose, the bookish sister, sets out to write her autobiography, it inevitably becomes the story of her short but extraordinary life with Ruby, the beautiful one. From their awkward first steps — Ruby's arm curled around Rose's neck, her foreshortened legs wrapped around Rose's hips — to the friendships they gradually build for themselves in the small town of Leaford, this is the profoundly affecting chronicle of an incomparable life journey. As Rose and Ruby's story builds to an unforgettable conclusion, Lansens aims at the heart of human experience — the hardship of loss and struggles for independence and the fundamental joy of simply living a life. This is a breath taking novel, one that no reader will soon forget, a heartrending story of love between sisters.

Rose writes their story beginning, "I have never looked into my sister's eyes. I have never looked into my sister's eyes. I have never bathed alone.". She describes the events surrounding their birth, who raised them, life in Canadian countryside and what life is like, knowing you can never be separated.

The Girls was included in the Richard and Judy book club and shortlisted in the British Book Awards 2007. I recommend this book "I promise you will never forget this extraordinary story" (Isabel Allende).

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