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The Girls: A Novel Hardcover – May 2, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316069035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316069038
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,194,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Conjoined twins Rose and Ruby Darlen are linked at the side of the head, with separate brains and bodies. Born in a small town outside Toronto in the midst of a tornado and abandoned by their unwed teenage mother two weeks later, the girls are cared for by Aunt Lovey, a nurse who refuses to see them as deformed or even disabled. She raises them in Leaford, Ontario, where, at age 29, Rose, the more verbal and bookish twin, begins writing their story—i.e., this novel, which begins, "I have never looked into my sister's eyes." Showing both linguistic skill and a gift for observation, Lansens's Rose evokes country life, including descriptions of corn and crows, and their neighbors Mrs. Merkel, who lost her only son in the tornado, and Frankie Foyle, who takes the twins' virginity. Rose shares her darkest memory (public humiliation during a visit to their Slovakian-born Uncle Stash's hometown) and her deepest regret, while Ruby, the prettier, more practical twin, who writes at her sister's insistence, offers critical details, such as what prompted Rose to write their life story. Through their alternating narratives, Lansens captures a contradictory longing for independence and togetherness that transcends the book's enormous conceit. (May 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Lansens' remarkable second novel is told from two viewpoints: that of Rose and that of Ruby Darlen, 29-year-old conjoined twins. Rose and Ruby are about to go down in history as the oldest surviving twins to be joined at the head. A recent medical diagnosis has spurred Rose to write her autobiography, and she encourages Ruby to do the same. Between the two sections, the story of their lives is revealed, beginning with their birth to an unwed teen mother and their adoption by Lovey Darlen, the nurse who was with their mother when she was in labor, and her strong, silent husband, Stash. The girls grow up on the Darlens' farm in rural Ontario, where Lovey refuses to accept the word of skeptical doctors who doubt the girls will ever be able to walk on their own. There is a great deal of subtlety in Lansens' narrative, and how the twins reveal the details of their lives--often one will refer to something she is sure the other has already mentioned in her section. But her biggest achievement in the novel is bringing to life these two truly extraordinary characters to such a degree that readers may forget they are reading fiction. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Lori Lansens was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, a small Canadian town with a remarkable history and a collection of eccentric characters. Living with her family in southern California now, she could not resist the pull of her fictitious 'Baldoon County' when she set out to write The Wife's Tale. She took the journey, along with her main character, from Canada to the Pacific Coast of America, where she enjoys the sunshine, and has learned a thing or two about transformation. She has written several screenplays and is the author of two previous novels, The Girls and Rush Home Road.

Customer Reviews

One of the most captivating books I have read in a long time.
OhioMom
I didn't want the book to end and I cried when I finished it - cried that I wouldn't be a part of their world anymore and cried because . . . well, go read the book.
BringMeBooks
It's very well written and the premise is very innovative and interesting.
Peggy MIlls

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 93 people found the following review helpful By L. Quido VINE VOICE on July 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Like other readers, I, too, am having a hard time moving on from the novel.

Like Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" and Audrey Niffenegger's "The Time Traveler's Wife", Lansens' "The Girls" owes its initial fame to a jaw-dropping concept, namely, a first person(s) fictional account of conjoined twin girls. Unlike those books, there is a fundamental joy brought forth from the sadness of the imagined situation. The two points of view, told in distinctively different voices and with different type settings, dance and weave with each other. Lansens, who has written for films and has an earlier novel, has a rich imagination coupled with a distinctive use of dialogue. But it is her gift for metaphor, and her voice that speaks of writing that causes the book to sit and simmer in your brain, ruining your concentration for those that come afterword....as Rose, the larger twin, the writer:

"Words leak from my brain. Seep out my ear. Burble from my crooked mouth. Splash on my shirt. Trickle into my keyboard. Pool on my warped parquet floor. At least they're not gushing from my heart.....I catch the words as they fall. My hands smell. And the place is a wreck. From all the spilled words."

Magnificent. The best book of 2005. Buy it, luxuriate in it.
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73 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Marion VINE VOICE on July 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but was floored by the beautiful writing, the prosaic metaphors, the sheer beauty of the entire story. . . not something you'd expect in regard to a tale of conjoined twins, fiction or not. It truly touched my soul and made me look at life through different eyes. I can only count on one hand the books that have affected me like this one.

When I read the last few pages yesterday, I was weeping. I didn't want the book to end. It wasn't a sad ending, I just didn't want the story to EVER end. I don't like giving book reports, but suffice it to say that this book will move into your heart and soul after you read it and will never completely leave you. A magnificent book, pure and simple. It deserves 10 stars and a Pulitzer Prize.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nancy C. on June 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I finished "The Girls" a couple of days ago, and it continues to haunt me. I keep thinking of it and am having a hard time concentrating on a new book. I suppose I was attracted by the theme of conjoined twins and was curious to see how the author would present it. It's actually a positive story of two girls, conjoined at the head, who manage to carve out a productive and happy life, with the support of loving adoptive parents.

Perhaps the ending is a bit down, but Ms. Lansens handles it beautifully. I highly, highly recommend "The Girls."
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jim M. on April 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy of this book. I opened it with no certainty that I planned on taking the time to read it. But the first sentences grabbed me, the early pages glided away, and by then, I was so entrenched in this world and entranced by the two main characters that there was no letting it go. This is a warm, open hearted gift of a novel. It demands to be read, and Lansens writes with such grace and clarity that it is easy to forget that this is fiction. I loved this novel, and I'm sure that I will return to it again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Megan McDermott on February 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved Rush Home Road, Lori Lansens' first book so I was looking forward to her second novel. This one didn't quite grab me as well as Rush Home Road did, but it is a great book nonetheless. Lansens has done an excellent job of turning these unlikely characters into very believable human beings. It is quite amazing, really. Like Rush Home Road, this book is also extremely well written.

Most of the book is written from the perspective of one of the twins, Rose, while some chapters are narrated by her sister Ruby. The story follows their lives from birth through childhood an into early adulthood. Despite their different personalities and interests they are forced to share a life and the challenges that arise from their physical attachment.

One correction: the Publisher's Weekly summary above states that the book is set in a town "just outside" Toronto. It is actually set near Chatham, Ontario, which is about 3 hours west of Toronto, closer to Detroit, Michigan. I am from Chatham so I am familiar with most of the places in the book - all of which are real except for the fictional town of Leaford, where most of the story is set. It is quite amazing to read a good novel set in an area that is so familiar to me.

If you like strong characters and good writing then you should defintely read this book!
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kim Robinson on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Lori Lansens must be a poet--Her words are lyrical and lovely-- and flow on the pages effortlessly. She makes the reader fall in love with Rose and Ruby; I know I did. And of course, Aunt Lovey!!! Unconditional love can save the world. Can't it?

I loved the chapter where Ruby experiences her first orgasm. Miss Lansen, How did you write this so beautifully--so eloquently?

I gave the book 3 stars because I was bored with the chapters about traveling to Uncle Stashes home in Europe (it did not add to the story or push it forward) I wanted more about Rose and Ruby---not Uncle Stash!

I wanted more insight about how people viewed these conjoined twins--they appeared to be accepted everywhere and by everyone--and this did not ring true to me. Most people would be fascinated, surprised, appalled, and terrified.

All in all--I liked this book and would read another by this articulate poet, Miss Lansens!
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