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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Girls
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 August 2009
This is the strangest of devices for a modern novel as it would seem that conjoined twins are extremely rare and you would be unlikely to ever come across them. However in this book they are definitely here and expecting to live their lives as well as they can. The nurse who adopts them after their traumatic arrival in a tornado is clearly a saint in human form. She is quite literally amazing. The acceptance, love and encouragement she gives the girls is humbling. To me this was the most impressive mother love story I have ever read. Their father too, with all his human failings, is shown to be the best of men. However throughout the book you are uncomfortable in the knowledge that for Ruby and Rose, their lot is a tough one. They are remarkable people who go the whole way to the ends of their lives with courage and humanity. It is a gripping tale and you certainly want to see it through with them. Lingering in the mind long after finishing the book, the lessons you learn about life with such a disability are real and strong. The everyday challenge of facing the world as they were and the way in which other people in their community show their reactions, surprising as they can be, is inspirational. I can't imagine how this story got into the mind of the writer but she has made an extremely good job of explaining the situation. A memorable and important read, well worth the discomfort you feel as you keep remembering that these two wonderful girls can never be separated.
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on 26 July 2017
Compelling from start to finish. Couldn't put it down.
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2006
Don't miss this book, it's one of this year's greats.

Rose and Ruby Darlen are joined at the tops of their heads. After their birth on the night of a freak tornado, they are adopted by Lovey, the nurse who delivered them, and Stash, her Slovakian husband.

As they grow up in the Canadian province of Ontario, we follow the ups and downs of their lives as narrated by both sisters, though mainly by Rose who decides to write her autobiography.

The sisters have distinct personalities, likes and dislikes, and their life is often a compromise.

The book is full of woderful characters, typical of small town life and is quite simply a delight to read.

I have only one complaint about this book and that relates to the cover design which shows the legs of two children dangling in water. As ruby had withered legs and clubbed feet that did not reach the ground, the illustration is totally unrelated to the book.

I have a copy of Ms Lansen's previous book, 'Rush Home Road', on my shelf and I will definately be reading that some time soon.
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on 13 July 2017
This is an unexpected find - to be honest I downloaded the wrong book - I was after the other 'The Girls'. However, I started this and loved it - it is a real immsersion and feat of imagination into a world most of us will never really know - that of the life of conjoined twins. The author speaks in the voices of the two women, and the story gradually unfolds - a page turner which I won't spoil for you here. I became totally engrossed by it, and was thinking a lot about the book even while at work. I really recommend this as an fascinating insight - and a novel of great ambition and reach.
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on 16 August 2008
Don't be put off by the girly jacket design or the potentially squeamish subject matter - this is a wonderful story, really well told. It describes the small town rural setting brilliantly and draws you into the twins' lives - their own particular struggles as well as the more general heartaches of life - with great subtlety. The way Lansens gives each twin a distinctive voice really works and despite the diary format you also get a wonderful sense of their friends, family and community. There are twists and surprises along the way so the story keeps moving at a good pace and the ending is just brilliant. Overall a great read that really makes you think (and cry).
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on 5 August 2007
I was intrigued by the unusual story of conjoined twins and how they lived, the challenges they faced on a daily basis and right from the first paragraph (which was beautifully crafted i must say) I scolded myself for pitying these girls who felt so blessed to have been given this life! This book is a very open, honest, book with inspirational characters who will make you laugh and cry. This book made me take a look at my life and appreciate things that we take for granted every day. I would definitely recommend it but possibly more of a girls book than a bloke's read?
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 1 December 2007
This beautifully written and very powerful novel is the fictional autobiography of two conjoined twins, Rose and Ruby. It's a bit slow in parts, but the language is beautiful and the end is extremely moving. One of those endings that stays with you. I felt like I really got to know Rose and Ruby and it was hard to say goodbye to them when the book ended.

While the book is mostly narrated by Rose, at times Ruby takes over. The use of different typefaces for each is a clever device that makes it clear who is writing at any one time. Lansens makes skillful use of the intertwined narrative to tell opposite sides of a story or to advance the plot. Ruby is the chatty one and she blurts out parts of the story that Rose had been withholding, but (with hindsight) you can see that there were little clues about. Also, at times they differ on the way that they remember something happening, as people do.

Not a lot happens in the novel and I can understand the reviewers who complain that it was slow going. A large part is the back story of their adoptive parents and at times I wanted to move the action back to the twins. It's not one of those fast-paced books that you can't put down. However as it builds, it draws you in and you realise how much you care about Rose, Ruby, Uncle Stash, Aunt Lovey and all the other characters who people this book so richly. The last few chapters are very moving and the end had me in tears.

The Girls is a very good book that I will remember for a long time. It's the kind of book that has the power to change how you see the world a little bit - and that's a pretty powerful thing for a novel to achieve.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 March 2008
This is a beautifully written story about conjoined twins named Rose and Ruby. Abandoned by their mother at birth, they are adopted by a kindly couple, Lovey and Stash Darlen. Lovey was one of the nurses present at the hospital when they were born.

Conjoined at the head, Rose and Ruby have a symbiotic relationship. Yet, for all their symbiosis, they are two very different and unique individuals. When Rose, who has a penchant for writing, decides to write her memoir, Ruby decides to add her two cents and write some chapters herself. This book is the story of their lives.

Written as two parallel stories, the author makes the voice of each twin distinct. Each of their narratives is redolent of the personality and world view of the twin writing the chapter. This is difficult to do, and the author succeeds brilliantly. This is certainly a book that will keep the reader turning the pages, At times heartbreakingly poignant, the book is infused with humor and wit, as well as a strong reminder that life is what one makes of it. Bravo!
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on 26 June 2007
I would never have picked up this book due to the cover and the subject matter, i thought it would be a sickly sweet story with characters i could'nt relate to. Because it was in the richard and judy book club i gave it a go and i am so glad i did. It is written so well that you really believe in these characters i could not put it down. I loved the way the twins had a sense of humour about themselves and their day to day life, i loved their personality differences and their little rows. The way the story is slowly revealed through each twin writing different chapters from their point of view keeps you gripped until the very end which. I have to say they had me in tears several times which to me is the sign of a really good read. Please ignore the bad reviews and give this book a chance you will love it.
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VINE VOICEon 30 January 2007
Rose and Ruby Darlen are Siamese twins - they have never seen each other because they are craniopagus twins - joined at the head. They are totally different and but one and the same. Their story could be sentimental but it is never that - it is the account of the people who love them and their extradordinary life and is beautifully written. The book is a double autobiogrpahy - Ruby and then Rose taking it in turns to write about their very individual views of their cojoined lives. There are surprises,(one of which comes completely out of left field) and there is great sadness but you really do not want the book to end. When a novel like this takes you and places you in a fictional world as well as this does you know you have something special. Thank you Lori Lansens and the Richard and Judy Book Club for choosing it!
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