‘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. The curtains slowly open. I can’t see anything because the spotlight is on us, bright as anything and blinding me, but I can hear the gasp go up. They always gasp.’
Dasha cannot imagine life without her sister. Masha is feisty and fearless. Dasha is gentle, quiet and fears everything; from the Soviet scientists who study them, to the other ‘defective’ children who bully them and the ‘healthies’ from whom they must be locked away.
For the twins have been born conjoined in a society where flaws must be hidden from sight and where their inseparability is the most terrible flaw of all.
Through the seismic shifts of Stalin’s communism to the beginnings of Putin’s democracy, Dasha and her irrepressible sister strive to be more than just ‘the together twins’, finding hope – and love – in the unlikeliest of places.
But will their quest for shared happiness always be threatened by the differences that divide them? And can a life lived in a sister’s shadow only ever be half a life?
About the author
Juliet Butler has worked in Russia and the UK as a journalist and translator for a number of organisations. She knew the twins, Masha and Dasha, over a period of some fifteen years, during which time she interviewed and recorded them on the many occasions she visited them. She collaborated with them on their autobiography, published in German in 2000.
- ‘The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep is a searingly frank and sympathetic portrayal of two very different women: Dasha, our narrator, who’s smart, sensitive, honest and loving; and her sister Masha who is quite the opposite: vicious, foul-mouthed and psychopathic – and outrageously funny with it … This novel, while always being an accessible read, offers profound insights into the effects of early deprivation on two very different people, and into the daydreams we nurture in order to survive; it tells us about love in impossible circumstances, and about the loneliness of never actually being alone. And the importance of having something to hope for.’ The Scotsman
- ‘A fascinating, heart-breaking tale of what it was like for the twins to be forever “together” – two different people whose destinies were forever entwined, one unable ever to escape the other’ Press Association
- ‘That such a compassionate tale has been brought forth is a testament to a tenacious author, who spent 15 years helping the twins unpack their story’ Science