When Lucy Brennan, a Miami Beach personal-fitness trainer, disarms a gunman chasing two frightened homeless men, the police and the breaking-news cameras are not far behind and, within hours, Lucy is a media hero. The solitary eye-witness is the depressed and overweight Lena Sorensen, who becomes obsessed with Lucy and signs up as her client - though she seems more interested in the trainer's body than her own. When the two women find themselves more closely aligned, and can't stop thinking about The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, the real problems start...
In the aggressive, foul-mouthed trainer, Lucy Brennan, and the needy, manipulative Lena Sorensen, Irvine Welsh has created two of his most memorable female protagonists, and one of the most bizarre, sado-masochistic folies à deux in contemporary fiction. Featuring murder, depravity and revenge - and enormous amounts of food and sex - The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins taps into two great obsessions of our time - how we look and where we live - and tells a story so subversive and dark it blacks out the Florida sun.
The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Walsh immediately conjures images that do in some ways prepare you for what is to come in this book. Anyone familiar with Irvine Walsh's previous work will know that he often writes very graphic and explicit scenes that involve sex and violence. With this in mind and having read the publicity material I was expecting this to be a bit graphic. I was however challenged on pretty much every page by the language and aggression displayed by the main character Lucy. The sexual scenes were even more challenging and this was a book that had to be hidden from my children, as there was no way I wanted my seven year old picking this up and accidentally reading a page.
The sex scenes are incredibly graphic and at the time I was reading them I wondered if it was really necessary for the book to be so incredibly graphic and for Lucy to be so aggressive and violent in her speech and behaviour. By the time I had finished the book and processed it however (I read it in two days as it was worth staying up late to finish) I had reached the conclusion that the story wouldn't really have had the same impact had Irvine Walsh not written the book so graphically.
I won't ruin the book by explaining what happens but I will say that it was a very powerful story that is told very, very well. I would even read this again I think in order to analyse it more fully as Irvine Walsh has displayed his great talent as a writer in being able to write a book that on many levels repels me yet was so gripping that I grabbed every moment I could to read it and find out what was going to happen. By the end I was able to go "oh right that makes sense" in regards to Lucy but for the majority of the story I didn't warm to her at all. The parallel story of the Siamese twins is yet another example of Irvine Walsh's talent in how he interweaves their story with that of Lucy and Lena. If you and your friends can handle the "R" aspect of this book it would make a fantastic book club read as there is a lot of discussion that could be had over this book and its themes.
I probably won't be lending this book to my mother but I do have friends who I know will enjoy this book so I would definitely recommend it if you can cope with a lot of swear words and some very explicit sex scenes. If this was a film I imagine it would be an R21 (or is it R18 these days...?) but needless to say the posts have been moved somewhat from the days when Lady Chatterley's lover caused an outrage! A very brilliant piece of work by Irvine Walsh and in spite of, and despite the, sex scenes and the language a very intriguing and compelling novel. I would rate this as fantastic value for money and well worth the RRP of $37.99 (which I don't say often!).
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