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The Memory Keeper's Daughter (2005)

by Kim Edwards

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
15,361452242 (3.46)1 / 422
On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that long-ago winter night.… (more)
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English (442)  Dutch (3)  Portuguese (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (450)
Showing 1-5 of 442 (next | show all)
gift from Emily
  Overgaard | Nov 11, 2019 |
I admire Edwards’ writing of this substantial novel but sadly wondered how one unconscionable decision could traumatize all three members of a family for most of their lives. In effect I am questioning the plausibility of the story’s plot.

I found David, Caroline, Norah and Phoebe well-developed characters with good dialogue but felt that Edwards struggled with Paul’s characterization. At times Paul seems forced, unrealistic. I have many questions about Paul: does Paul really believe his father doesn’t love him? Simply because David doesn’t fully understand or support Paul’s musical aspirations? Or for using his medical practice as an excuse for not being home enough? And why wouldn’t Paul become closer to and more protective of his father after learning about his mother’s inappropriate behavior? Why is Paul angry at both his mother and father?

The deterioration of this family is painful to watch. Hard to grasp doctor David’s impatience with Norah’s continuous grieving. It’s possible that since he’s not grieving the ‘loss’ but expending his emotional energy on guilt for having ‘created’ an impossible situation. This leaves him with no reserves of sympathy or sensitivity to spare for Norah!

While David and his family are declining, Caroline’s and Phoebe’s lives are adjusting and developing. Caroline lands a solid job and a home with an employer who becomes a good friend and advocate. And finds herself and an inner strength by joining a group of parents of children with Down syndrome on a mission to improve and normalize their children’s lives. And raising, caring for Phoebe is challenging but she excels at both the practical and emotional aspects. Caroline continues to find fulfillment and love in her personal life as well. But… she always feels a sense of culpability in what she’s done.

Throughout my reading I always wondered how it would all end, and believed that at some point Norah or Paul would learn the truth.

Very good read.
  Bookish59 | Oct 21, 2019 |
Had to read to the end to see how this complicated family secret could be resolved. Found the writing rather too melodramatic. ( )
  siri51 | Jun 30, 2019 |
Perfect. Just perfect. I feel as if I have woken from a dream. I loved it so much, and I nearly moved to tears. For a few days, I have been cut off from the outside world, immersed in this story, drifting into another world. I have no children of my own, but the thought of giving a child is unbearable even for me. I think the summing-up of this whole story is that every secret has a price to pay and the truth will always reveal. I loved the painting on the cover and the title of the book, I won't forget the moment I understood its meaning, "The Memory Keeper's Daughter," I couldn't think of a more beautiful way to write it. I found myself thinking about this book the night before I went to sleep, no doubt his influence would last much longer. ( )
  Johenlvinson | Jan 13, 2019 |
Call me mental or any other name you choose, but since reading this book a week ago - I can't shake it off my mind: great writing, excellent book. ( )
  IVOLOKITA | Jan 11, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 442 (next | show all)
Kim Edwards's debut novel is a winner, and those who read THE MEMORY KEEPER'S DAUGHTER are going to want to read her next one. Highly recommended.
 
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Dedication
For Abigail and Naomi
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The snow started to fall several hours before her labor began.
Quotations
They'd live their lives day by day, each one taking them another step away from their lost daughter.
... when he slid his arms around her again, he was thinking, I love you. I love you so much, and I lied to you. And the distance between them, millimeters only, the space of a breath, opened up and deepened, became a cavern at whose edge he stood.
Their lost daughter still hovered between them; their lives had shaped themselves around her absence.
She did not know that her discarded clothes fluttered in a wind that he himself had set in motion so many years ago.
This was the grief he had carried with him, heavy as a stone in his heart. This was the grief he had tried to spare Norah and Paul, only to create so many others.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A heart wrenching novel about human choice. Dr. David Henry makes a choice that forever changes lives of his family. Edwards delves into her characters and makes the reader feel as thought they are looking through a window into someone's life.
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Average: (3.46)
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1 161
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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