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Old 17th Apr 2007, 11:57   #1
leyla
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Default Lori Lansens

Lori Lansens was already an esteemed writer before The Girls, her Orange listed novel, came out - her debut novel Rush Home Road had received favourable reviews and been published in eleven countries, and she also had screenwriting credits to her name. The Girls will raise that reputation to even loftier heights and cement it.
The Girls is a fictional account of conjoined twins (also known in lay language as 'Siamese' twins after a historically celebrated pair). In this case, the twins, Rose and Ruby, are joined at the head - craniopagus twins - and, despite their formation from a single fertilised egg, they not only have differences physically, but also have very individual and idiosyncratic personalities.

Adopted as babies by a loving nurse and her kindly, doting Slovakian husband, the twins grow up knowing they are loved, which slightly lessens the hardships of leading life permanently joined. Unable to be separated because of a common cranial blood supply, they make the best of their lives. Rose, the writer of the two, decides to write an autobiography, to which Ruby contributes, and this forms the substance of the novel.

Throughout, the twins' voices are distinctive and touching. As they relate significant episodes from their lives, often non chronologically, the reader gains a genuine insight into what life must be liked for conjoined twins. The very different characters of Rose and Ruby and their genuine, moving, and often funny memoirs, ensures that the story is always credible and never descends into a pseudo-medical account or a salacious freak show. Along the way, we find out about their birth and the fleeing of their natural mother, their childhoods with their beloved Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash, their interests - Rose loves reading, writing and sports while Ruby is fascinated by the early native settlers at the site of their home and has made a name for herself finding their buried artefacts - their passions, loves and adventures. The whole is a charming mix of the everyday and the unusual, and the matter-of-fact, unsentimental delivery means that although parts of the book are imbued with tragedy, the tone remains uplifting and hopeful. Even while we feel sadness, we also smile at the familiar love, irritations, sniping and overwhelming loyalty that could describe any close sibling bond.
This is a gentle, lilting book that pulses with life and warmth.
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 17:30   #2
Oryx
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Default Re: Lori Lansens

I read this last summer. I am surprised to hear that this novelist has other works under her belt. For some reason I thought this was a first novel.

While I agree with most of what Leyla says, I did think it was a little shaggy. By that I mean it felt like it could have withstood another round of editing. It read like a first draft. Or maybe that was the point-to give the diary style veracity.

But on the whole I enjoyed it. I though the story was very credible. Especially the ending.
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 22:07   #3
leyla
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Default Re: Lori Lansens

I think I know what you mean by 'shaggy', Oryx - it did hop around all over the place chronologically, dipping its toe here and then hopping off there. At times I found that a bit irksome but, like you, I thought it added authenticity to the premise that it was written by two amateur writers, one of whom had no interest in writing at all. It made it seem more of a 'snapshots of a life' type impression - which I think Lansens was aiming for - rather than a professionally written formally crafted autobio with beginning, middle and end.
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 23:09   #4
Oryx
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I think she did a superb job with, was it Rose?, the one who didn't want to write. She made it sound amateurish without making it bad writing. Very well done.
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 23:14   #5
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Default Re: Lori Lansens

Thank you for the review. I have this book on the TBR stack. I have passed it by several times. Looks like I will have to move it to the top of the stack.
I wasn't aware that Lansens had any prior novels . Good to know.

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