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The Less You Know The Sounder You Sleep

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  461 ratings  ·  92 reviews
‘Do yourself a favour and read this wonderful book’ Scotsman

Based on the true story of conjoined Russian twins, Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova, The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep is a tale of survival and self-determination, innocence and lies.

‘We’re waiting. I squeeze my eyes shut and dig my fingers into Masha’s neck where I’m holding her. She digs hers into mine. Th
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 10th 2017 by Fourth Estate (first published January 1st 2000)
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Mar 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I knew this book was going to be heartbreaking, because how could it not be with a hopeless situation like this, but it was even more crushing than I anticipated. It was fascinating and unique and with the backdrop of a Russia in the midst of political change it became a incredibly rich and emotional story.

But as I kept turning the pages and finding out more about Masha and Dasha (both through the book and thorough google searches) I wondered; why isn’t this a non fiction story? I think the form
Roman Clodia
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
What I liked about this book is the way it challenges social views of disability and 'normality': Dasha's voice throughout cannot be distinguished from any other child/girl/woman (the story is told in the presence tense so she ages as we read), only her experiences of the world differ - because she is a conjoined twin, born in Moscow in 1950.

Butler has a fantastic topic here and a life story that deserves to be told. Dasha and her twin Masha live for 53 years, sometimes hidden away, sometimes fi
Lizzie Huxley-Jones
Please note, disabled readers – this book discusses the medical torture of a number of disabled people and thus is a very difficult and possibly triggering read. Do take care. This novel also discusses alcoholism and familial domestic abuse.

I didn’t know about Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova until 4th Estate sent me this copy of The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep; now I cannot get them out of my mind. Born in the 1950s in Soviet Russia, conjoined twins Masha and Dasha were raised by scientis
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Juliet Butler felt that the biography she penned with Masha and Dasha - conjoined twins born into 1950's Soviet Russia - didn't portray the real story. It is possible that this fictionalised version of their life doens't either but it is absolutely engaging reading. Not only does it provide an insight into the attitude of the medical profession and Soviet society, but it also gets inside the head of Dasha, the gentle twin of the two and the life she endures at the hands of her more feisty sister ...more
Sally Boocock
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
By page 34 this book was breaking my heart. It is an amazing telling of the lives of co-joined twins Masha and Dasha who were born in 1950 in Russia. It tells of the dreadful conditions and heartbreaking lives they were forced to live. But it also contains love, humour and hope. It is a book which will stay with you long after you finish the last page. Totally engrossing and more so because it is all true.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: give-aways
An enlightening and interesting read about determination and lies, coming from a personal and real life experience, giving it a more comforting and reliable feel about it. Conjoined twins, Russia under the reign of Putin and something that connects with your feelings, what more could you want?
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
“She says that just because crayons are broken, it doesn’t mean they can’t colour in.” Page 150
Carrie Kellenberger
“You're hopeful one moment and then disappointed the next. You think everything's going well and then there's some change and you realize it wasn't going well at all. You realize it was all going wrong and that you'd been lied to. So then you start all over again, believing it's all going to be right this time. You keep on and on, hoping.” ― Juliet Butler, The Less You Know The Sounder You Sleep

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book, but it was a pleasant surprise. This is
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have never cried harder over a book than this one.
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I don't know how to review this or rate it. I gave it five stars because there's nothing wrong with it or the story... except that it exists at all. I've had this out from my library since August (because their system glitched and they don't know I have it) and I've only just gotten around to reading it. I don't remember how I even came across it to begin with.

But when I finally started reading it, I almost immediately wanted to put it down. Not because it was bad (though it did feel like
Sally Jane
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
'It is our duty to protect them (the healthies) from you... you're not monsters, as such.' This is what these conjoined twins were told as children. Victims of Stalin and his communist world, this book clearly describes the two individual personalities and characters of these twins, thus dispelling any myths about whether or not conjoined twins are one person or two. It is a shocking, but moving, fly- on-the-wall true story of the segregation of disabled children in Russia. This moving book desc ...more
Erin Emily
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

Written by a journalist who knew them, this book tells the true story of conjoined twins, Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova, as they try to gain independence but are sent from institution to institution throughout their lives. The story is set against the backdrop of the Soviet Union from the 1950s- early 2000s and looks at the treatment of those with differences and disabilities throughout Stalin’s communism and into Putin’s democracy. At the heart of the book is the conflict between Masha and Das
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
‘The less you know you the sounder you sleep’ by Juliet Butler is a compelling and beautiful novel surrounding the tale of two conjoined twins growing up in Soviet Russia.

Whilst the novel is multifaceted in message, undoubtedly one of the most striking elements is the relationship between the conjoined twins – opposite in almost entirely every way excluding their biology. Both protagonist and antagonist share a body, which makes for a mesmerizing, yet at times troubling, read for the observer. Y
Kate Kuhn
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
'The Less You Know, The Sounder You Sleep' is the enlightening, curiosity-sating, shocking and ultimately heartbreaking story of Masha and Dasha - Russian twins who were conjoined at birth and remained conjoined in death - and written with clear, deep respect and love by a woman who knew them personally. It is a must-read for anybody who appreciates an intimate, inside-view of real, fascinating, unimaginable lives, and appeals just as relatably to those who have experienced or witnessed discrimi ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written, captivating and unique story.

This book tells the tale of Siamese twins growing up in Soviet Russia.

I was gripped from the start, falling through the pages, curious to see their story unfold. Why are they conjoined? What does that mean for their future?

Not only does Dasha's voice provide incredible insight into how it must feel to be conjoined, throughout their story the author has woven historical events about Russian communism. Which I found fascinating.

The lay
Emma Griffiths
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
*I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway!*

This is an incredible read that is set against the political backdrop of Russia in the 1950s, Where conjoined twins Masha and Dasha were raised by scientists in research institutes and subjected to what is now considered prolonged medical torture. Their story is one of being physically attached to your opposite, to someone who beats and hurts you. Most narratives of conjoined twins show a closeness, a love despite differences, however Butler explores this dis
Carol Courtier
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entering the world of Masha and Dasha, one is plunged into a life story on the fringes of endurance - something incomprehensible to the rest of us; somehow taboo and extremely rare.

One is subjected to horror and revulsion mixed with empathy and hope yet all through the resilience of their human spirit shines out like a beacon.

The twins' story shows how far we have come on the road to compassion; not just in Russia but the human family as a whole. Aristotle is reputed to have said that a society
Christina Kelly
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Vivienne Yudaken
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Throughout all the pain and the suffering the cruelty and the horror
the part that will remain with me forever was that the twins were blind to other's disabilities.
What a heartwarming characteristic.
Learning the truth about Slava in the notes at the end of the book made such an impact.


Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a well-written and researched story about two amazing women and the various nurses and scientists who worked on and with them. They lived an eventful and harrowing life through a significant period in Russia. I was amazed at the strength, tenacity and individuality of Masha and Dasha. Also, the many top level Russian scientists who were women in that era was impressive. I recommend the book wholeheartedly.
Kate Thompson
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep is a truly captivating novel which immediately had me hooked.

The book follows Masha & Dasha’s life as conjoined twins in Russia, from children into adulthood, as they spend their life in various institutions, often having to battle to be treated with the dignity they deserve. The story of their life, played out against the backdrop of Russia’s changing political and social climate is fascinating. Hearing the story through Dasha’s voice evokes true empathy
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Set in the USSR at a time when repression was omnipresent - and especially so for these 2 girls - this story is a fascinating social history of life behind the Iron Curtain, as well as a tale of bravery and survival. Juliet Butler conveys this heart-warming narrative with humour and allows us to really understand the motivations of life in that era.
Elaine Mendoza
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating, engaging, and informative read.

Juliet Butler is a journalist who lived and worked in Russia as a journalist. In 1988 she met Masha and Dasha, conjoined twins who had grown up in institutions in Soviet Russia and who were the subject of some startlingly brutal medical experimentation. She went to interview them for the Sunday Times Magazine having seen them appear on a TV show in Russia. This developed into a close 15-year relationship and she was asked by them to ghost-wri
Lisa Bywell
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The more you learn about communist Russia, the more you want to weep. But that’s only part of this story of the conjoined twins Masha and Dasha, and thanks to the skill of Juliet Butler, it is an amazing read.
Beatrice Douglas
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing read. Though recommended by a friend, whose opinion I respect, I came to this novel with some apprehension, because of the content, which is based on the lives of a pair of Russian conjoined twins. I urge you to please ignore any preconceptions and come to this book with an open mind.
The narrative is delivered by one of the twins, Dasha Krivoshlyapova, in a voice recreated by her friend and journalist, Juliet Butler, who knew the twins for over ten years. The novel is a faction I
Jeevitha Ganesh
This is by far, one of my favourites. I purchased this book accidentally and I do not regret a bit about this accident.
Carol Lawrie
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yolande Price
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book might be rather dreary but it turned out to be a very light and easy read – Masha is so funny I was laughing so much at the things she did and said.
It was also an interesting reflection on Russian history in that their lives and the treatment of them changed with each new Russian/Soviet leader who came to power with a new policy.
I thought it was also very striking that they didn’t realize that they were different and weren’t treated any differently by the other children whe
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the first reason why i was drawn to this book was because of the title. it hit me almost the same way like your heart is the muscle the size of a fist by Sunil Yapa, but this one hit harder. when i read the summary of this book, i immediately became even more sure to pick this book, especially knowing that it is based on a true story.

my first impression towards dasha and masha is that they are just like every other child. more pure, even. the way they were being super excited when they were allo
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book offered an incredible insight into the lives of Masha and Dasha, two Siamese twins. After reading it, I was left still thinking about the, heartbreaking at times, story and the way it must have felt. The beautifully documented events of the girls' lives allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the social standards of the Soviet Union at the time and how this affected them, whether this be minor details or in fact very large ones. This book was one of the best that I have read in a ...more
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