By Lori Lansens
Completed January 5, 2009
The Girls by Lori Lansens was the story of Rose and Ruby – twins conjoined at the head, who were writing about their lives as connected but separate people. Set in Canada, Rose and Ruby became local celebrities whose lives were full and enriching, surrounded by people who loved them and accepted by those in their community.
Rose was the primary narrator of this story. Her sections of the book focused mostly on the history of her parents, Uncle Stash and Aunt Lovey, and the events of the twins’ childhood and teenage years. Rose was a writer, so her pages read more like a book or a piece of fiction. Ruby would pipe in occasionally with her own chapters, which focused more on the twins’ present lives and their future. Ruby’s sections read more like a diary – much more casual but equally enthralling. The combination of both narrative styles made The Girls a fun but enlightening read.
I was fascinated with Lansens’s depiction of Rose and Ruby. At first, I wondered how hard it would be to share my entire life connected to my sister – with no sense of privacy, the inability to do something without my sister tagging along and the public stigma that they must have endured. However, by the middle of the book, I forgot that the girls were conjoined. They emerged as separate characters to me. In fact, it was only when Lansens mentioned something about their conjoining (such as using mirrors to see each other) that I remembered Ruby and Rose were connected. These characters evolved into their own women – with their own temperaments, dreams, loves and fears – and I loved reading every word of their lives.
The Girls was long-listed for the Orange Prize and an example of excellent contemporary fiction written by a woman. If you love great character-driven fiction, then The Girls is for you.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The Girls by Lori Lansens (Jill)