Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt

BOOK OF THE WEEK THE LESS YOU KNOW THE SOUNDER YOU SLEEP by Juliet Butler 4th Estate, hardback PS12.99, ebook PS7.99 HHHH H DASHA and Masha Krivoshlyapova were conjoined twins born in Moscow in 1950 during the Communist regime.

The Less You Know The Sounder You Sleep is a fictionalised telling of their real - and almost unimaginably unique - lives.

The author, Juliet Butler, is an English journalist who got to know the twins very well during the latter part of their lifetimes.

This book is based on taped conversations and interviews with Masha and Dasha, as well as those that knew them, recorded during Butler's 15-year friendship with the twins.

Hidden from public view since birth and subjected to a variety of medical 'experiments', the twins developed wildly different personalities - one domineering, one gentle and kind.

The Less You Know The Sounder You Sleep is told in the voice of Dasha, the quieter of the twins.

Through her eyes, the reader discovers the twins' unique life experiences and Dasha's hopes and dreams, as well as the harsh reality of life for those considered physically and mentally different in Russia - both under Communism and afterwards.

It's a fascinating, heartbreaking tale of what it was like for the twins to be forever 'together' - two different people whose destinies were forever entwined, one unable to ever escape the other.

FICTION MIDWINTER BREAK by Bernard MacLaverty Jonathan Cape, hardback PS14.99, ebook PS9.99 HHH HH MIDWINTER Break is Northern Irish writer Bernard McLaverty's highly anticipated fifth novel - which comes 16 years after the Booker prizenominated author's last novel, The Anatomy School.

It tells of elderly couple Gerry and Stella's holiday to Amsterdam.

As the book progresses, it becomes clear that there are huge cracks in long-enduring relationship, with Stella reaching the end of her patience with Gerry's poorly hidden alcoholism and irreverence towards her religion.

Occasionally we see flashbacks of their lives in Northern Ireland, before they moved to Scotland and progressed into old age.

It's a very intimate portrait of a relationship between two older people, an interesting perspective as so many novels are dedicated to the young.

However, every time it feels like we're going to really get underneath the skin of the characters, the moment passes and MacLaverty instead focuses on some of the more mundane aspects of their holiday.

The best, and most moving, parts of the novel are flashbacks to their experiences during the Troubles - however, these are too brief to feel fully addressed.

31 DAYS OF WONDER by Tom Winter Corsair, hardback PS14.99, ebook PS7.99 HH HHH TWENTYSOMETHINGS Alice and Ben have a fleeting encounter one day in Grosvenor Square. They are inexplicably drawn to each other, but will their paths ever cross again? …

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