Books: Doubly Good

A winning first novel about Siamese twins

At first blush, a novel about a pair of twins yoked together at their chests by a 7-in. band of cartilage sounds like one of those ideas more intriguing in the conception than the execution. Once the unusual premise has been established, what's left to do? A number of good answers can be found in Darrin Strauss's Chang and Eng (Dutton; 323 pages; $23.95), a fictionalized account of the real-life, and eponymous, Siamese twins (1811-74) who were widely exhibited as touring oddities and who then settled in rural North Carolina, married a pair of sisters and fathered, between them, 21 children.

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