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

Violet and Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville’s Famous Conjoined Twins
by Sarah Miller
Middle School, High School    Schwartz & Wade/Random    320 pp.    g
4/21    978-0-593-11972-3    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-11973-0    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-11974-7    $10.99

On February 5, 1908, conjoined twins were born to Kate Skinner, an unwed mother, in Brighton, England. Mary ­Hilton, the opportunistic bar owner who had hired the expectant mother for no pay in exchange for midwifery services, quickly adopted the girls from Skinner and proceeded to charge customers for a peek at them. Carnivals of the time featured a variety of so-called “freaks,” people with atypical physical features. Capitalizing on this, Mary began touring the twins, first in England, then Europe and Australia, before landing in America. Here they made the jump to vaudeville, becoming a sensational box office hit in the 1920s. When Mary passed away, guardianship passed to her daughter and son-in-law, who continued to shamelessly exploit the twins. Ultimately, however, the sisters broke free of their control and began managing their own business affairs, though much less successfully. After their careers ended with a steady mix of burlesque shows, nightclub acts, and state fairs, they retired to North Carolina, working in a grocery store, before passing away in 1969. True to form, Miller’s (The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne ­Quintuplets, rev. 9/19) account is meticulously detailed and draws a clear line between facts and speculation, especially when it comes to the motivation of various characters. This comprehensive biography also provides a healthy dose of social history, particularly as it relates to entertainment, gender roles, and disability. A section of ­black-and-white captioned photographs is inserted in the middle, while an author’s note, bibliography, and source notes are appended.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Ann Clare LeZotte

I just brought this book home from the library. This terrific review puts it at the top of my TBR!

Posted : Jul 18, 2021 09:35


RELATED 

Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?