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The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim…

The Memory Keeper's Daughter (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Kim Edwards

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13,562434157 (3.46)1 / 382
Title:The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Authors:Kim Edwards
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2006), Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (2005)

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English (422)  Dutch (3)  Portuguese (2)  Spanish (2)  All languages (429)
Showing 1-5 of 422 (next | show all)
Could you raise a special needs child? What would you do if your child was born them? David Henry is faced with that decision when his wife goes into labor in the early 60's, a time when raising a child with special needs was not heard of. This is a decision that effects his family for the next 20 years.

This was a decent book. It took me sometime to get into the book but I liked the last half of it. I felt terrible for characters at times, to go through grief that otherwise could have been prevented. One lie led to this. ( )
  welkeral | Mar 20, 2016 |
Wonderful! Not at all what I expected. The story unfolds over 24 years of missteps and wrong decisions. The pain of one decision has ramifications far beyond what he could imagine. Not sure what Rosemary was doing in the book, so only 4 stars.

David Henry is a man who has walled off his emotions and who is used to keeping secrets. He marries the lovely Norah just 3 months after first seeing her in a department store.

When their first child is due a snow storm hits and David, who is an orthopaedic surgeon, is forced to deliver the child himself. He manages to get Norah to his clinic and his nurse manages to arrive just in time to provide the anesthetic (1964, they still gave mothers ether to knock them out). His son, Paul, is perfect, but when he is expecting the afterbirth, instead he delivers a second child. Tiny, with obvious physical characteristics, Phoebe is born with Down syndrome.

David doesn’t want Norah to know – he believes she is fragile. And, as is typical for the time, he instructs nurse Caroline Gill to take the child to an institution for the feeble minded. It’s a split-second decision and one he will not reverse. But Caroline can’t bear to leave the infant in “that terrible place,” so she takes Phoebe to a different city and raises her there.

How this one split-second decision – and all the decisions that result – come to affect all the parties involved is the crux of this novel. It takes you in directions you’re not sure you want to follow. It feels very intimate and the reader is uncomfortable at times. The ending leaves room for a sequel. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 12, 2016 |
It's 1964, and amid a blizzard, and despite that fact that he's an orthopedist, Dr. David Henry has just delivered his wife's first child -- a healthy, beautiful, perfect baby boy -- Paul. Much to his surprise, a second baby is born as well. This time, a baby girl with Down Syndrome. In a spur of the moment decision, with his wife unaware, Dr. Henry asks Caroline Gill, the nurse assisting with the delivery, to take the girl away to an institution. As Caroline makes the long drive to the institution, she can't help but feel how wrong the whole situation is. And when she gets there, she can't go through with it. Caroline and Phoebe leave, setting up a new life of their own in a new town, far away from anyone who might recognize them.

Meanwhile, Norah Henry spends the next 25 years believing that her daughter died at birth. Over the years, the pain hasn't lessened. In fact, as she watches Paul grow up, she can't help but imagine what Phoebe might have been like if she'd lived. Would she have his same love of music? Would she be as headstrong as he is? Would she be athetically inclined, like him? Or maybe she'd be completely different. Norah and Dr. Henry grow apart as his secret wedges its way between them. When Dr. Henry gave Phoebe to Caroline, he thought he would be saving his wife a lifetime of heartache. He never imagined that he would ruin their marriage.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter is one of those books that sticks with you. While I was reading it, and still now, days later, I'm wondering what I would do if I were any of the characters.

How would I react if my husband told me my child had died at birth, and that he didn't want a memorial service or any kind of formal burial? Would I be suspicious? Or would I just accept it? Could I live with a man who didn't want me to discuss the heartache of the loss of a child?

What if I were in Caroline's shoes? Would I be able to deliver a baby to an institution as ordered? Would I have the strength to raise a baby -- with special needs, no less -- all by myself, in secret, away from all my family and friends? Would I tell the mother, or would I keep it quiet as the father requested?

It's easy to say that you'd do the right thing. You'd tell the mother. You'd question your husband. But what reason would you have to believe that your husband lied to you, that your baby wasn't really dead? And as the nurse, wouldn't you be concerned that the mother might call the police, that you might be charged with kidnapping, that the father might retaliate against you?

It's hard to say that I enjoyed this book, because I'm not really sure if I did. How much can you enjoy a book that punches you in the gut and rips your heart out? But the story is good, and I kept coming back for more. A little each day, because I couldn't handle much more than that. This book is definitely not for everyone, and at other times in my life, I probably would have liked it less. Thankfully, I read this one at the right time. ( )
  Sara.Newhouse | Feb 11, 2016 |
I really found it difficult to identify with some of the actions of the main characters in this book- the father and the opening scene in particular really set the tone of the whole novel and it was hard to come back from that. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
A wonderful impacting and emotional read, at least in my opinion. I normally don't enjoy books that make it high on the bestsellers list because a lot of time it's not my kind of fiction, but what I had heard of the book intrigued me enough to read it.

I read through some of the things that people disliked about it and I found I disagreed with them! I thought it was very well written! I very much like the way that the story was told through all these different points of view, you really got to know and understand the different characters. I was sympathetic towards Norah about losing her daughter, saddened when she felt depressed and happy for her when she found the life that could take her away from her sadness. Although I don't agree with what David did - taking his daughter away and lying about it for so many years - you feel the pain in his heart (from both lying and the events from his childhood) and the chaos that it causes him, torn between the daughter he knows he should have kept and the lie that consumes him and won't let him free. I admire Caroline, the woman who raises Phoebe, for her strength and determination to see through the difficulties of Phoebe's condition. The other characters - like Caroline's husband, Norah's sister, Rosemary - are perfect foils for each of the character's inner person.

Also, I actually liked how Phoebe was this character that you never really got to know except through the eyces of other characters. You never hear how she feels but she is the most important charater in the novel; she shapes and impacts the others around her.

Although, one thing I def. agree with is that I was hoping for a more exciting and impacting ending!! It felt like there was all this pain, misery and hardships through the book for each of the different characters and then the ending didn't have the proper closure for them. ( )
  elle-kay | Jan 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 422 (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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First words
The snow started to fall several hours before her labor began.
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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Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143037145, Paperback)

Award-winning writer Kim Edwards's The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a brilliantly crafted family drama that explores every mother's silent fear: what would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you?

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 David Henry's fateful decision that long-ago winter night.

A rich and deeply moving page-turner, The Memory Keeper's Daughter captures the way life takes unexpected turns and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets burst into the open. It is an astonishing tale of redemptive love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:20 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

"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 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. Norah henry, who knows only that her daughter died at birth, remains inconsolable; her grief weighs heavily on their marriage. And Paul, their son, raises himself as best he can, in a house grown cold with mourning. Meanwhile, Phoebe, the lost daughter, grows from a sunny child to a vibrant young woman whose mother loves her as fiercely as if she were her own." "The Memory Keeper's Daughter articulates a silent fear close to the heart of every mother: What would happen if you lost your child, and she grew up without you?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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