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The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton: A True Story of Conjoined Twins

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  819 ratings  ·  104 reviews
The true rags-to-riches-to-rags tale of conjoined twins--their journey from freak-show notoriety to vaudeville stardom to movie celebrity, and their heart-wrenching descent back into poverty.

A richly detailed account of the romantic adventures of these attractive and accomplished young women who were at the epicenter of one of the most celebrated sex scandals of 1930.

Chron
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Paperback, 421 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Ten Speed Press
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  819 ratings  ·  104 reviews


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Start your review of The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton: A True Story of Conjoined Twins
Catherine
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daisy and Violet Hilton were born as conjoined twins, (their spines fused together) to an unwed mother in 1908. To escape the shame of being not only a single woman but also having given birth to infants with birth defects, their young mother wouldn’t even look at the girls. The midwife, Mrs. Hilton, a married pub owner and mother of one daughter, accepted the girls into her family and seemingly saw the twins’ moneymaking potential.

Very quickly Mrs. Hilton drags the girls from their home in Bri
...more
Willow
I’ve been reading some of the best non fiction lately. Usually historical biographies are so dry and boring, but not this book.

Daisy and Violet Hilton are truly one of the most famous pair of conjoined twins there ever was (besides Eng and Chang) and they had a fascinating life. I’ve been trying to find out more information about conjoined twins, sideshows, and carnival life and this book is a plethora of information. It’s a compelling read as well.

For years, Daisy and Violet have been an enig
...more
George
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
CAPTIVATING. ILLUMINATING. FASCINATING.

“Extensive tours throughout the United States and Europe afforded [Harry] Houdini many opportunities to seek out freaks and phenoms. In fact, he may have encountered more human oddities than any other person of his time. Even so, he was wonderstruck when he entered Pickard’s Waxwork and saw Daisy and Violet Hilton. Not only were they the most amazing human oddities he had ever seen, but the blue-eyed, curly-haired moppets were also just about the most beaut
...more
Kyle
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love the musical Side Show so I wanted to know more about the real Daisy and Violet Hilton. This was a very entertaining read, fast-paced and fascinating. It's amazing how the twins were once the toast of society but ended up forgotten and penniless in a trailer park. Definitely a worthwhile read.
Rebecca
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing

I always wanted to know more about the actors from the movie Freaks.
Daisy and Violet were performers and toured from birth. Started in a bar room, hit the side show circuit, vaudeville toured Europe.
They made a lot of money which was embezzled by various keepers. They thought "Freaks" would lead to a serious career in the movies.

During the twins youth they were kept "humble" by mental abuse, when they finally broke free they went wild. Having a twin attached didn't slow them down from anything.
...more
Unwisely
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I am not sure exactly how or why this got on my to-read list, but, seriously? Wow. It was an amazing true story of some Siamese Twins, born in Britain, but who were trained from birth (basically) to be performers. They started in carnivals, came to the US, and were apparently fairly famous as performers - apparently they were quite good in their own right. They were huge stars in the 20's, and performed with famous stars (ones even I had heard of). And the whole thing is amazing - they got aroun ...more
Zoe
Jan 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Wonderfully entertaining book about siamese twins (nonfiction). It's very thorough but never boring. Anyone interested in pop culture would love this.
Billie J
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Biography of Hilton Co-joined Twins

****No Spoilers***

Well researched and quite interesting story of the Hilton twins from their births in England to their deaths in the U.S. I will not share details of the book and spoil the story for others. Although I found the story bittersweet at times, there were good times as well. I did feel rather voyeristic and found myself wondering some of the same things as many who came in contact with the twins. It was well worth the read.
Carissa
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was quite interesting. I would say that is is more than just an account of the lives of the the Hilton sisters. It seemed to be an accurate portrayal of growing up in the early 1900s. It showed the transition from live vaudeville to motion picture movie houses, the changing trends in circus acts and how some things that were shocking became mundane (ex: not being able to obtain a marriage license then twenty years later it was a snap).
It is unfortunate that the twins did not have a fin
...more
Carol
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book gives the reader a horrifying look into a society where the word "freak" was acceptable in referring to almost any physical defect regardless the feelings of the individual. At a time when working in a sideshow where hundreds of people came in to stare was the only option for people like this, the Hilton sisters were unable to escape this fate.


Shunned by a Mother who couldn't bear to hold them ('monsters') and taken in by a mid-wife who know a dollar when she saw it, these girls were
...more
Michael
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is the opposite of a Disney movie. Sad, happy then sad again. It's hard to review but here it goes. This is a great book. And terribly sad. Wonderfully written but hard to read. Perfect amount of detail without over-doing it. The book kept me up late a couple nights. I first saw Daisy and Violet Hilton in the 1932 movie Freaks. And loved the movie. I'd had this book on my "to read" for awhile and finally got it. It's an amazing book about a very sad story. My heart aches for these 2 be ...more
Vinnie
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
well I saw a lot of folks seemed to not have loved this book as much as I did....I have been a fan of the Hiltons since I 1st saw them on t.v. in the film "Freaks" in high school. I was fascinated by them and was happy to read this book that hit on details of their life we may have never known.
Patsy Bishop
Interesting book from a historical perspective. Seems like they made up a lot of the information. Many "events" appeared in the book more than once. Could have cut out a few pages by not repeating so much.
Sharon
Jan 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting enough that I Netflixed the movie.
Lindsay Hunter
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very well researched and thorough. Poignant and sad.
Lenny
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very captivating biography about Daisy and Violet Hilton-Siamese twins joined at the buttocks.
Yaaresse
I seem to be following an unplanned path here that started with reading Truevine and then Freaks in short order. My only awareness of the Hilton sisters before this book wasn't by name, but as the Siamese twins in the movie Freaks, which I probably saw on some light night movie channel at least twenty years ago. They seem to have been as famous in their heyday as the Kardshians were in the 2010s--the obvious difference being the Hilton sisters, by most accounts, had talents beyond self-marketing ...more
thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich)
This is my 180th book and my last read for 2017! What an insightful and heartrending  biography of the conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton in the early 20th century. Their lives were nothing short of struggles, dramas, heartbreaks and misfortunes.

The conjoined twins (pygopagus) were rejected by their own mother since birth. But later were adopted by Mary Hilton (the midwife who helped delivered them), who exploited them to generate lucrative steady income by exhibiting them in taverns, vau
...more
Ronald Koltnow
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Daisy and Violet Skinner were born in a tenement flat in Brighton, England. The midwife who delivered the Siamese twins took them in when their mother rejected them. Mary Hilton gave Daisy and Violet her name and her home, and then exploited them as a freak show. Traveling with her daughter and later her son-in-law, Mary grew rich on the girls's earnings. Then, the son-in-law, Myer Myers, grew filthy rich on their earnings. The girls were virtual prisoners in their exploiters's home (which they ...more
Nina
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of these conjoined twins before, but many decades ago they were beautiful, world-famous, made tons of money, danced in their act with a newbie named Bob Hope, were good friends with Harry Houdini, and had boyfriends and lovers galore. There were many photographs throughout the book; they were indeed movie-star pretty. Each was married at one point or another, and one of them had a baby (that had to be given up for adoption). They played many musical instruments, sang, told joke ...more
Thelma Hornsby Brinson
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
These two girls, Daisy and Violet, would not be of the interest today that they were in their day. Today, they would have been separated and been able to live individual normal lives. In their time, they were considered freaks, so much so that their mother, a single woman, would not even look at them and immediately gave them up to Mary Hilton. It seems Mary's only interest was in making money off these girls by showing them as freaks in carnivals, road shows, traveling circus's etc. She did, ho ...more
Phyllis
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and sad. Conjoined girls are born to a mother who is horrified by how the girls look and rejects them at birth.
Then are adopted by a woman who sees them as a meal ticket and is never loving towards them even when they turn out to be beautiful girls.
Throughout their lives they are treated and exploited as freaks. They are talented, playing several instruments an dancing . Era before motion pictures and TV so live shows are very popular.
As the girls age and the picture industry d
...more
Amanda Lagerfeld
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I am obsessed with the circus lives of the past. Circus "freaks" are one of my favorite things in the world. I love the move Freaks and because of that move I read this biography. I actually read this about 10 years ago and I think about these girls and their tragic life at least once a month. From the sad beginnings to their sad tragic end and everything in between I highly recommend this book.
Gloria
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lyn
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this after performing in the musical Side Show, which is loosely based on their lives. The musical is so gripping that I wanted to learn more about its inspiration. Their lives were fascinating, and although quite different from the musical characters, the twins show so many deep layers in this book.
Wendy
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Daisy and Violet were conjoined twins from England. They had a rough life but became great entertainers touring the US and Europe. This book follows them through the ups and downs of their loves, performing life and retirement.
Barbara
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting book. There are a number of grammatical errors, what happened to the editor? When there are as many errors in a book as I found in this one it makes me think the author, publisher, editors just don’t care. At times I wondered if English was the first language of the author.
Janet Simmons
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of them before. Found the book very interesting and really informative. The only reason I gave it 4 stars is for its length, there are some places it got kind of wordy but overall I really enjoyed the book.
Joan Keaton
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book!!!

This is the most interesting autobiography I’ve read in a long time. I never heard of them before but it was just fascinating hearing about their lives.
Falene
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating ...and so sad how taken advantage of
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Dean Jensen is a former journalist who owns and manages an art gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Also writes under the name Dean N. Jensen.
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