Violet and Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville’s Famous Conjoined Twins

Sarah Miller. Random House/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-11972-3
This intriguing history chronicles the stardom and travails of conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, born in Brighton, England, in 1908. When Kate Skinner, an unwed mother, gave birth to twin girls joined “by a single shared tailbone,” she deemed them “freaks” and allowed her boss, a hardhearted bar owner named Mary Hilton, to adopt them. With deserved outrage, the text documents how the mercenary, abusive woman, and subsequently other promoters, saw potential in exploiting the girls. With their musical talents and onstage presence fostered, the twins premiered in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and eventually the U.S., where they appeared in carnivals, later vaudeville, and even a feature film flop. In chronicling the twins’ engrossing ups and downs, Miller (The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets) effectively sketches broad themes, including how the siblings preserved harmony from an early age, tuned out the other to grant privacy (including for dating), and fed their appetite for publicity, which sometimes translated into stunts, such as their weddings. Though the twins’ personalities remain obscure, this engaging, linear narrative transcends spectacle to portray their storied career with sensitivity. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 04/01/2021
Release date: 04/27/2021
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 320 pages - 978-0-593-11973-0
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