The Girls by Lori Lansens

The Girls

byLori Lansens

Kobo ebook | February 24, 2009

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In Lori Lansens’ astonishing second novel, readers come to know and love two of the most remarkable characters in Canadian fiction. Rose and Ruby are twenty-nine-year-old conjoined twins. Born during a tornado to a shocked teenaged mother in the hospital at Leaford, Ontario, they are raised by the nurse who helped usher them into the world. Aunt Lovey and her husband, Uncle Stash, are middle-aged and with no children of their own. They relocate from the town to the drafty old farmhouse in the country that has been in Lovey’s family for generations.

Joined to Ruby at the head, Rose’s face is pulled to one side, but she has full use of her limbs. Ruby has a beautiful face, but her body is tiny and she is unable to walk. She rests her legs on her sister’s hip, rather like a small child or a doll.

In spite of their situation, the girls lead surprisingly separate lives. Rose is bookish and a baseball fan. Ruby is fond of trash TV and has a passion for local history.

Rose has always wanted to be a writer, and as the novel opens, she begins to pen her autobiography. Here is how she begins:

I have never looked into my sister’s eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I’ve never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. I’ve never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I’ve never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I’ve never done, but oh, how I’ve been loved. And, if such things were to be, I’d live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially.

Ruby, with her marvellous characteristic logic, points out that Rose’s autobiography will have to be Ruby’s as well — and how can she trust Rose to represent her story accurately? Soon, Ruby decides to chime in with chapters of her own.

The novel begins with Rose, but eventually moves to Ruby’s point of view and then switches back and forth. Because the girls face in slightly different directions, neither can see what the other is writing, and they don’t tell each other either. The reader is treated to sometimes overlapping stories told in two wonderfully distinct styles. Rose is given to introspection and secrecy. Ruby’s style is "tell-all" — frank and decidedly sweet.

We learn of their early years as the town "freaks" and of Lovey’s and Stash’s determination to give them as normal an upbringing as possible. But when we meet them, both Lovey and Stash are dead, the girls have moved back into town, and they’ve received some ominous news. They are on the verge of becoming the oldest surviving craniopagus (joined at the head) twins in history, but the question of whether they’ll live to celebrate their thirtieth birthday is suddenly impossible to answer.

In Rose and Ruby, Lori Lansens has created two precious characters, each distinct and loveable in their very different ways, and has given them a world in Leaford that rings absolutely true. The girls are unforgettable. The Girls is nothing short of a tour de force.


From the Hardcover edition.
Lori Lansens has written several screenplays. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
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Title:The GirlsFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:February 24, 2009Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307371549

ISBN - 13:9780307371546

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating I ran across this book purely by chance – and good fortune! It was on sale at one of the local bookstores, which prompted me to pick it up and take a closer look. The story itself intrigued me, but it was the writing that captivated me as I flipped from page to page reading a paragraph here and there. So I took it home. Well, let me tell you... Once in awhile a book comes along that leaves a beautiful imprint in your heart, and this is such a book. This extraordinarily moving, heartbreaking, joyous and sometimes funny story will stay with you long after you’ve closed the cover. You will adore the twins as they take turns narrating the story, and you will feel blessed for having been given a view into their world. The writing in this story is so delightful and emotion-provoking that you will sometimes forget that it’s not based on a true story.
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memorable I selected this book for my independent study for English class haphazardly and it ended up being a very memorable story. It was unique and very emotional and most importantly, it was exceptionally well written.
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lori Lansens did it again! I think Lori Lansens is a brilliant writer! I loved Rush Home Road and consider it one of my favourite books. In this book, Lori amazed me again by introducing us to two new characters. Her writing is amazing and her ability to take you away and introduce you to new people and places is incredible. I highly recommend this book!
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth the long read Almost a 5. I don't know if everyone will like it, but I really did. It's long and you need to accept that and keep reading anyway because when you get near the end you realize you needed all those chapters and stories in order to become attached to not only the girls but also Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash. So for reviews I see saying "I quit reading" I think it's a shame because you grow to love it. The writing is less than perfect but that's almost a good thing because the chapters are written by each sister, one an aspiring writer and one an admittedly bad writer. So it works that the writing isn't amazing and you can read it like letters or diary entries. I liked that the two girls had different styles and personalities in their writing and story telling so that you knew it was two distinct girls and not just an author changing perspectives. I grew to love all the characters through their life stories and cried twice in the last 50 pages. I recommend it for those who are patient enough for long books and can appreciate the need for all the stories.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but not her very best I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, even the hard emotional parts. Lori Lansens is a wonderful author and this is a good starting point for her work. It only goes up from here.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It is hard to find good books like those of Lori Lansens When you crave a story, a really good story. A story that oulls you in and grabs hold. A story that breaks your heart and uplifts it. A novel that makes you think and makes you love more deeply, read The Girls.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from :( It was just ok, if I start a book I will read it all, and I had to force myself to finish it.
Date published: 2013-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stash some time away to read this book! Great read!! Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash' sweet girls, Rose and Ruby Darlen of Baldoon county. Craniopagus twins. Forever entwined but such beautiful individuals. All the characters in the book are brought to life by Lori Lansens ability to tell a great story. You're going to cry with them and in the next sentence laugh with them. I couldn't put it down. Loved it.
Date published: 2012-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotional A peek into the world of siamese twins, Ruby and Rose show us the cruel way the world looks at them, as freaks and monsters. Lori Lansens does it again, as this book is beautifully written and pulls at your heartsrings through out the story...
Date published: 2009-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unable to put down I loved this heart warming story about two sisters and the journey of their life. The author develops the sisters as individual characters that at times the reader will forget that they are conjoined. I couldn't stop reading this book. If you pick it up, you will not be disappointed.
Date published: 2008-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A bold and utterly convincing book The Girls pulled me inside the world of Siamese twin sisters who couldn't be more different from each other, yet literally could not live without each other--Rose the intellectual and aspiring writer, Ruby the amateur archeologist who believes in ghosts. In less capable hands, their story might make you cringe. But there's nothing remotely freakish about The Girls: you see yourself in all their joys, fears and life passages, including loss of virgnity. Lansens fearlessly realizes what might be the most extraordinary sex scene I've yet read. Tender, surprising and unforgettable, this book uses the sisters' condition to explore both the challenges and the rewards of intimacy. Unlike Ruby and Rose, who share a blood supply, the rest of us can outlive our kin. But we need them just as much as "the girls" do. Lansens brings this theme to life with a compelling story line and endearingly complicated characters.
Date published: 2007-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An unbelievable read... Lori Lansens novel "The Girls" is a masterpiece evoking emotion in even the hardest of hearts. "The Girls" is a story that wedges itself between every crevice of your being and begs not to be forgotten. A thought-provoking, magnificent, and mesmerizing book.
Date published: 2007-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book of The Year! This book is written so compellingly that I had to keep looking at the cover to make sure it was fiction. The author does an outstanding job of making this story seem real. I couldn't wait to go out and buy another Lori Lansens book.
Date published: 2007-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching Story This book is not usually one I would pick out on my own. However a friend read it for her bookclub and recommended it. It's written in a very interesting way, which I found hard to put down. You want to read on, even when its done.
Date published: 2006-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply great I heard about this book on CBC - I turned on the radio and heard an excerpt read by the author. I was instantly interested in reading this "memoir" of conjoined twins. This is a very simply written and easy to read book, about ordinary people who are privately extraordinary. These girls are taken in and loved by a childless couple after their somewhat catastrophic birth in a southwestern Ontario town. In that small town, they simply become "the girls" and grow up to be funny, smart and candid observers of the people around them. The book is written mostly from the perspective of Rose, the twin who can walk and who carries her sister on her hip. She is a writer who loves words and feels the weight of the responsibility of telling her story. Intermittently, we are graced with the unexpected voice of her sister Ruby, a straight talking but sensitive young woman who writes reluctantly and in a conversational tone. Lori Lansens is a gifted writer with a keen sense of people. I can't wait to read her next book!
Date published: 2006-07-07