|The Memory Keeper's Daughter
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Kim Edwards?s stunning family drama evokes the spirit of Sue Miller and Alice Sebold, articulating every mother?s silent fear: what would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? In 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins, he immediately recognizes that one of them has Down Syndrome and makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and to keep her birth a secret. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child as her own. Compulsively readable and deeply moving, The Memory Keeper?s Daughter is an astonishing tale of redemptive love.
- a treasure
This is a book that should be savored. Each paragraph is awash in beautiful imagery and the phrasing is glorious. I found myself rereading paragraphs to fully appreciate the imagery.
The story is heart-wrenching. I have found myself with a new insight into people suffering from Down's Syndrome. I will never look at them in the same way again.
The characters are real, and the reader can feel the anguish, joy, heartache and struggles that can be the result of one decision made on one night. At any moment, we can experience a moment that can change our lives forever.
A must read!...more info
- Thought provoking - made me realize how we live our life really affects those around us!!!
It's the kind of book that keeps drawing you into the story and characters. I felt so deeply for all of them, Norah, Paul, David, Caroline. How sad to think the choice you made was for someone else's benefit, and you realize years later that God did know best!! How you messed up, the ripple affect, everyone's life changed, all because of a decision, you thought was simple to make at the time, affects all your loved ones and you spend the rest of your life regretting that one moment in time. How different their lives would've been had this little girl been part of their lives! They needed her more than she needed them!!! And Caroline, how she needed her and didn't even know it. Her life changing from single and lonely to rich and full. How empty her life would've been without her!! How empty Norah, David, and Paul's life was without her. Made me realize how important life is, our decisions and our interactions with those we love and those we meet. Could've been real - GOOD STORY!!...more info
- A story of misguided Love
Sometimes the choices we make in the name of protecting someone we love can cause the object of our love more harm than good. So it is with Dr. David Henry.
When twins, a boy and a girl, are born to his wife, and the girl has Downs Syndrome, he decides it would be better for his wife to think the child died at birth. He puts the infant in the hands of his nurse to take to an institution. Instead, she keeps the girl and the child becomes a blessing to her and her husband. In the doctor's family, the wife cannot come to terms with her loss and her husband cannot forget the child he abandoned and both contribute to the breakdown of their marriage. The Memory Keeper's Daughter is an excellent story of both heartbreak and happiness and the validation of Downs Syndrome children as loving, happy individuals and, although they may need extra care, they can be as much a blessing to a family as any child.
Eunice Boeve, author of Ride a Shadowed Trail
This is a beautifully written, thought-provoking book that explores love, lies, and the spiritual poverty that stems from shame. I loved every page....more info
- "Good" but too long and drawn out
This book was just "OK" to me. When I first began to read this book I couldn't put it down for the first 1/2 of the book. About middle ways through it I began to get bored reading about how their son, Paul was smoking weed and stealing cars and about how Norah, the wife, was out having many affairs. During that part of the book I found myself stopping and taking more "breaks" and forcing myself to pick it up again to learn the final outcome of the story. I was a little disappointed in the ending too. ...more info
- interesting idea for a story but poorly written
I was interested in reading this book as the story sounded intriguing. I have no idea why I even bothered to finish it, I couldnt wait for it to be over and start another book. The writing is extremely tedious, she goes into paragraphs upon paragraphs of details that really add nothing to the story. It is way too long and I would certainly not recommend this book to anyone. I dont think I will bother reading anything else she wrote as she just didnt engage me whatsoever. I wonder what another writer could have done with the story, it could have been brilliant....more info
- What if? Always more complicated than it seems...
"In the silence David started talking again, trying to explain at first about the snow and the shock and the scalpel flashing in the harsh light. How he has stood outside himself and watched himself moving in the world. How he had woken up every morning of his life for eighteen years thinking maybe today, maybe this was the day he would put things right."
I actually bought this book as a Christmas present for my mother, but decided I had to read it before I wrapped it up and hid it under the tree. This book is about choices, secrets, moments that alter your life forever. We live everyday, wake up, go to work or school, eat lunch, meet people, but how much of what we do will be forgotten tomorrow? next week? a year from now? The vast majority of the moments we live are mundane. Yet, every once in a while, a day comes along that alters everything, that makes you look back and think:
What if he had gotten me pregnant when we were all hot and heavy back in high school?
What if I had applied to Harvard and Yale instead of playing it safe and staying in state?
What if I took that job in New York that paid crap instead of going into the family business?
What if I had said yes when he proposed? What if I had said no?
The choices that define our lives don't come along very often. For David, one moment, one (wrong?) decision sends his life into a tailspin that he never come to terms with. It weighs him down for over two decades and echoes in his death as his family deals with the aftermath. The Memory Keeper's Daughter explores the impact and unintended consequences a single decision can have. The prose is elegant, almost like poetry and for the first half of the book I was enchanted. The end seemed to drag where the beginning had flown smoothly, but overall I enjoyed the story and the gentle observations it made very much. Edwards offers a stark picture of why the question of "What if?" is never as simple as it seems....more info
- Well written, but . . .
I had high hopes for this book and was disappointed from the beginning. Although descriptive, it failed to evoke emotion. I found myself wanting to be finished with the book. I love books of all types, but I want them to entertain me. This one didn't....more info
Between the some of the worst passages I've ever read (incredible to me, as the author is a college writing professor and should know not to bog down her writing with "gee look how creative I can get with this metaphor" passages), the poor grammar ("Norah speeded up") and the continuous misuse of a term (It's Down Syndrome, not "Down's" Syndrome), this book was a struggle to read. The author crammed in passages about "shafts of light", "quicksilver", "starfish hands," and "cascades of (insert random something here)" at every opportunity, and yet none of these things advanced the plot. I didn't connect with the characters either. One star for content, another for the basic idea used in the plot....more info
- Beautiful, artful handling of many difficult themes
I found the story to be beautiful and sad, but fell short of depressing. Instead, I was fascinated as Edwards deftly explored so many themes. She accurately, yet with a graceful subtely, reflected the epochal decades the characters pass through in the book. The disappointment for couples of finding it so difficult to remain in love, or even simply to communicate, after marriage. The long stretches of emotionally numbing day-to-day life in a marriage. The very real and little undstood depression mothers often experience when their children are very young, when they are beautiful yet so emotionally and physically draining. The challange to so many people who, like David, left poor, rural communities post WWII, getting an education, yet still feeling a keen sense of inadequacy or embarrassment about their origins. The transition afoot in the 60s and 70s, and the disorientation often involved for both wives and husbands, in finding, feeling that it was not necessarily a given that women must stay at home rearing children. How do couples maintain their individuality within a relationship, without erecting walls between them that can't be crossed. The stunning dislocation for parents of trying to cope with volatile teenage children, and often not surviving unscathed.
Hence, the story treats so much more than the effect of guilt over the dark secret of the twin sister. The delicate personal and societal issues of dealing with handicapped persons are, like the other themes, handled tenderly and openly, yet without being forced on the reader. Nevertheless, much of what Edwards describes could happen in any relationship, to any couple trying to master the complexities of making marriage and family work, particularly in that era. It's almost as if the secret of Phoebe's existence serves to accentuate, accelerate and heighten the tensions that would have have existed, in any event, in the lives of Norah and David. This secret gives what might otherwise be mundane themes an added edge and poignancy, a reason to be written about.
- A real page turner
I am so stunned by all of the negative reviews on this book! I think I tend to be very critical of books, and have a very short list of favorites. I absolutely loved this book. I thought the characters were very well-developed, and the author's writing positively flowed. The relationships portrayed were so realistic and believable that I was not surprised to read the interview with the author at the end of the book that said it was based on a true story. I usually dislike books that jump from year to year, as I feel some of the story can be missed and unanswered questions will remain. Although this was true in some cases, Edwards did a nice job of providing a synopsis of what happened with the characters during the years the readers weren't "with" them. I will say that I enjoyed the beginning and middle of the book more so than the end, which I felt was maybe a tad neatly tied up. However, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone....more info
- Had high hopes, but couldn't finish it.
Like many other people, I truly was excited about picking up this book. The premise touched my heart and I couldn't wait to get it. Unfortunately, once I dug in the book became tedious and I couldn't relate to the characters. Once I realized that I didn't care what happened to them, I had to stop reading. I'm a very soft hearted person (which means I cry at movies often) so if this book didn't touch me, it may not touch you either....more info
- A page-turner, but too sad
I could not put this book down! Yet, for all of that, once I finished it, I felt cheated and DEEPLY saddened. The only happy part of the book is Phoebe. Everything else is just...sad. And there are a couple of plot twists that I can't stomach, either because they take away from the story or because they make no sense. I can't say anything more without spoilers, so I won't; but I did not like this book very much and I do not recommend it....more info
- Good story idea...just average execution
I should probably start my reviews by letting the reader understand my reading style -- basically, I like a good, entertaining book that will allow me to escape for a little while. Books with great imagery and compelling stories suck me in. Nothing better than a good page turner!
With that said, I had been eyeing The Memory Keeper's Daughter for a while at my local bookstore. I found the idea of the story interesting. After a few months, I finally purchased on Amazon. The story outline is good: A doctor delivers his twin children in the middle of a snowstorm. The boy is normal but the girl is born with Down's Syndrome. He asks his devoted nurse to take the child to the local institution but tells his wife that there were 2 children and the girl died. The story continues to depict how that one decision changes so many lives.
Really great idea! The problem with this book was in the execution. I did not find the way it was written to be all that engaging. Part of what drew me to the book was the complimentary review from Sue Monk Kidd, author of one of my most recent favorite reads "The Secret Life of Bees." Kidd's book is written in a style that draws you into the story, into the characters and is written with such vivid language that I could actually see the house where her characters lived. I expected the same of "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" and found little of that kind of language in there. Sure, I wanted to get to the end of the story to see how it was all resolved, but I found getting there to be a bit tedious. I think the author tried to make what was in essence a novella or short story into something longer.
So, not the worst book I've ever read, but not the most engaging. If you're looking for something you can read a chapter or 2 before you go to bed at night and not have to worry about staying up all night because you can't put it down, then this is your book....more info
- Thought Provoking
During a snowstorm in 1964, Norah Henry goes into labor. Unable to reach the hospital, Norah's husband meets his nurse at his orthopedic practice, and delivers his healthy son Paul into the world. A few minutes later a second child is born, a girl with Down's syndrome. David Henry makes a split second decision, one that will haunt him all his life. He tells his nurse to take the child to an institution nearby. He then waits for his wife to awaken from the anesthesia, and tells her the child has died and been taken away for burial. Unbeknown to David however, the nurse Caroline does not leave the baby at the institution. Carefully planning her disappearance, she leaves town and raises the child as her own.
A multi-layered look at the destruction lies and deception can take on a family, even when the lie is told with the best intentions. Following the lives of the two families, the Henry family, slowly being destroyed by a lie that only one of them knows, and Caroline's struggles as a single mother raising a special needs child, Edwards adroitly weaves the two separate tales until the convergence of the story lines near the end of the book. Well written, if repetitive at times, I couldn't stop reading until I found out what the end of the story would bring.
- Interesting and thought provoking read
This books seems to polarise those who read it - you either like it or you don't. I fall into the former category. The story of a fathers decision to give away his child with Downs and the effect it has on everyone from that day forward, I found to be interesting and well written, and worthy of the attention that this book has generated.
It is not a book for everyone - it suited my tastes because I like very strong character driven books that cover a period of years and the changes that those years bring. Down side is that it is a quite slow moving book, which will definitely deter some readers from continuing to read this book to its conclusion....more info
- too sad and too slow
I thought the poetic wording in this novel was beautiful, but tedius. I never stop reading a book in the middle so I skipped about twenty pages midway through just so I could get things moving along. Another problem was how sad this book is. Everyone is so depressed and miserable. And Norah seemed very selfish and unlikable. I actually liked David Henry the most out of all the characters. Whatever he might have done wrong, at least his motives were pure. Everyone else just seemed so self possessed....more info
- Well written, but depressing.
I couldn't put this book down, but in the end, I felt incredibly down on life. The books is dark, dark, dark. There are many passages about each character's past--as if they're trapped in their memories, which conveys this sense of helplessness about life....more info
- Interesting Read
I thought it was a pretty good read. It kept my attention the whole way and I felt attached to the characters. Interesting story line, not super original but pretty good....more info
- Poorly written with unlikeable characters
I was led to believe this book was something more than just a poorly written romance novel, but that's pretty much what it was. I'm game for a good "beach read" type of book if it's engaging and at least somewhat well-written, but this book is not. There was not one character I felt was well-developed or particularly likable. The writing style was amatuerish, and repetetive, and the resolution was unsatisfying. I was left with a feeling of "who cares?" as well as disappointment that I had wasted my time on this book....more info
- A different time, a different way of life
Wasn't quite sure about the ending - I don't know if the wife would have made a different choice as she came across as a society wife to me. A good read though.
- More Prose Than Plot
I love the creative use of words and poetic phrases in a novel when used to to propel the story. This author seemed to love her own creative wording for their own sake, more than for moving the story along. Shortly into this book I actually tired of the use of all the lovely phrases that just dragged the story to a slower and slower pace as each page when by. I kept with if for about 1/4 the way into the book, giving it that long to develop a plot line that would hook me in, but it just didn't come about yet, and I put it down. I have not been compelled to pick it up again. ...more info
- The Memory Keeper's Daughter
This book is about a doctor named David Henry, he delivers his own twins. His first child, Paul, is healthy. But his second child, Phoebe, has down syndrome. So David makes a decision that will haunt him forever, he hands Phoebe to his nurse, Caroline, and tells her to take Phoebe to an institution (I think thats what it is?) but instead Caroline takes Phoebe away to raise as her own. David tells Norah (his wife, mother of Paul and Phoebe) that Phoebe died at birth.
So David lives with this secret.
Its a pretty good book, it travels through the years as Paul and Phoebe grow and shows the importance of that moment. It's well written, very powerful. But the ending, I don't know. I guess it just doesn't tie everything up. It's not an ending where you think about it all night (like I regularly do) you just kind of read the last page and it feels like you still have to finish the book. And you think the book could end well at a certain point, but you look and theres still 2 or 3 more pages. Edwards keeps dragging the ending out (not through the whole book, just the last few chapters) like she doesn't want to let go of writing this book. And another thing about the book, it feels like some of the characters are just dropped.
But don't read this and not want to read the book, its worth reading just be prepared for a little less than perfect ending....more info
- Great plot, but not so great writing
While I found the story line extremely interesting, I struggled to get through this book. If the plot was any less interesting, I would've given up (and was often tempted to do so). There were far too many details that were totally unnecessary to the story--metaphors that actually distracted me. Some I even rolled my eyes over. The author over uses certain words and metaphors as well--and I am not one who has ever noticed that in any other book I've read. For instance, she uses the word "pale" so many times that I could almost predict when she was going to use it again. Far too many of her metaphors use water to the point where they were also tedious and distracting.
The plot was good, as was the character development, but I do not like her writing style at all....more info
- I cared enough to skim to the ending
While the premise is interesting, I never connected with the characters enough to care. I skimmed a lot till I found out the ending. Edwards had a lovely image of the child's hand like a small star but she used it at least four times. There was a "she" for a "he" once. I read it several times to confirm the errors. Editors??? Where were you? I read the book because a friend of mine loved it. I am a writer and know I can get picky picky but this book did nothing for me,...more info
- Politically Correct Weepie
You can always tell a Politically Correct novel because the characters who don't behave in a PC way are punished. In this case, when the Misguided Father rejects his Down Syndrome (continually and incorrectly called "Down's Syndrome") daughter, you just know he is going to come to a Bad End. And he does, after 400 pages that move at the pace of a somnolent Galapagos tortoise.
Moving away from the hobbling confines of the premise, and judging the novel just as a novel, it is lacking in many ways.
1. The characters are not well defined and are almost impossible to identify with, except for Caroline Gill, the nurse. At least you know what she is thinking, why she feels that way, and what motivates her. Her reactions, too, are those of a normal person. The others are just vehicles for the author to float her PC plot upon. The father makes little sense, the wife Norah is a cipher, their son Paul just a name with a few attributes hung onto it ("plays the guitar wonderfully".)
They were basically unlikable, spoiled people so I didn't care if they came to a Bad End. They seemed to have no real purpose in life---stereotypical yuppies who never grew up.
2. I see much praise of the author's style but I found it flat and bland. Sometimes style can make up for feeble plot or character but not here. The writing was not vivid and tended to fall back on cliches, like a town in France where you walked to the market for fresh bread and pots of flowers. Surely she could find a more original thing to say about France, other than an image from a travel poster. (All that was missing was the bicycle-basket and the beret.) Opening the book at random, here's a couple of sentences: "The water between his feet was brown, edged with a sickly white foam. The wind rose, and the swirling water flashed, drew closer, and then there was acid in his throat and he was on his hands and knees, the stones cold beneath his hands, vomiting into the wild gray river, heaving until nothing more could be expelled."
Not that there is anything incorrect about them, but for a book lauded for its style, it seems that "brown...sickly white foam...swirling water...wild gray river" are pretty blah descriptives. 400 pages of this gets increasingly dull. I found I had to skim a lot of it just to keep going to the end.
3. The plot involved too many unbelievable things. I know, "suspension of disbelief" and "it's a novel," but I also know that one of the rules of fiction is that your readers will grant you one big thing (say, that Martians have moved to Youngstown, Ohio) but that you must be scrupulous in all the others. In this case, it was one unlikely event after another. I am sure the author set the beginning in 1964 because presumably it was easier for a doctor to cover up his tracks if he did anything questionable back then. And the snowstorm was so patently a set up (how else could the author make sure the usual witnesses couldn't make it in to the hospital?) and the friendly truck driver who turns up just at the right moment o rescue the nurse and the baby...and on and on. I know death certificates existed in 1964 but as that would have ruined her plot, the author didn't mention that little inconvenience. ...more info
- Absolutely loved this book!
Well I'm shocked at how many have rated this book poorly and goes to show everyone has different likes in what they read. I have not been so interested in a book in so long. I could not put this down and became incredibly enthralled with each of the characters ... all for differing reasons. I almost felt as though I was somewhere mixed in, literally within, their lives. I understood them and their actions and was moved in so many ways. It was amazing how well Kim was able to age each of the characters so well and in a way that was easily followed by the reader. I've never actually gone back and read a book twice, but I have a feeling this one won't collect too much dust!
My only complaint ... i felt a small loose end with Rosemary. I wished she popped up one more time (perhaps the funeral)....more info
- Borrowed From Library Good Free Read
I love to read and usually read light "fluff" fiction that I can finish in one sitting.
I decided to read this book for an "odd" reason--simply because I heard it made the NY Times Best Seller List and was written by a first time author.
Hmmm, I thought, that's unusual and interesting. I then checked out what Amazonians were saying about the book and it was getting great reviews. I immediately logged onto my library account online and put the book on hold.
Despite having read about 30 Amazon reviews, the book was not what I expected. It was interesting, but not the masterpiece I was lead to imagine it would be. As a matter of fact, before deciding to write my own review, the reason I decided to write a review, was simply to say--the only review you need to read is the one I failed to read first myself.
It's the one at the very top, before all the Amazon book reader reviews, it's titled FROM THE WASHINGTON POST and written by Ron Charles. His review is perfect, accurate, and the best. I'd still have checked the book out for free from my local library after reading his review, but I wouldn't have expected a five star masterpiece.
- Not a book for action/adventure lovers
It seems like people either love or hate this book. I thought it was beautifully written and the story idea was fairly unique. It's not a "happy" book, but it really does make you think and I think Edwards does a good job of illustrating how secrets can tear a family apart....more info
- Freeze Frame
On a snowy winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced to deliver his twins and makes a split-second decision that forever alters theh lives of everyone involved. When it is apparent to him that his daughter has Down's Syndrome, he asks the nurse to take her to an institution, without telling his wife. The nurse, Caroline Gil, complies, but upon arriving at the institution, she does not have the heart to leave the girl there and winds up raising her on her own. Meanwhile, David has told his wife that their daughter died at birth, a lie that grows between them as the years progress.
"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" is episodic in nature, moving through spans of years from the 1960s to the 1980s, with four main characters acting as narrators: Caroline, David, his wife Norah, and their son Paul. Each character is forever affected by that one snowy night. Norah cannot get over the loss of her daughter and Paul wonders what his sister would have been like, at times feeling himself to blame for the loss. David knows that he can never share this secret and set things right, as he desperately longs to do, further building the wall that grows between his family members. Caroline wonders what her place in all this is, and whether or not she should reveal the secret or even allow David to be a part of his daughter's life.
Edwards is a gifted storyteller, sketching each character completely, making the time and story come to life. Yet sometimes her prose is a little too heavy-handed in all its detail; certain attempts at being poetic are too dense, and some images are repeated causing them to lose their effect. After a tremendous buildup, the ending feels slightly rushed. While it may be hard to imagine a proper ending for a story of this magnitude, almost too little was done to wrap up some loose ends that remained. All in all, "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" is quick-paced and engaging, a vividly drawn and truly enjoyable read. ...more info
- Plot Holes and Annoying Characters
I do not understand the popularity of this book. Our book club has deemed this book 'Our Least Favorite'. We found many of the characters 'unlikeable'. Additionally, there were several plot holes.
- Pretty decent book if you don't mind knowing what's coming next.
This book overall was a good read. It kept me interested even though it was very predictable. The emotions of the characters kept me reading. The price is right, so pick it up for a diversion. You'll be satisfied....more info
- Haunting novel filled with so many "what if's".
Haunting novel filled with so many "what if's". I love first novels of authors, and this is one. Though I cannot imagine how someone could act as David did when his twins were born, I have to accept that he did it out of deep love and wanting to protect Hannah and Paul. Yet that very act shattered the very love he was trying to save. As the author so often says, it built a wall that no one in the Henry family could scale. I feel a little disconcerted about how events with David progressed, a little cheated, though I don't want to say more because of spoilers, etc. David's actions to keep Hanna safe turned her into a very different woman than she might have been...
As for Caroline and Phoebe, I can appreciate what Caroline did, but the whole thing of keeping a baby secret from her mother is not exactly something I can wrap my head around. There is resolution in this book, but still a lot of questions, open ends and a mystery. It only deepens my beliefs that not all secrets meant to protect or help do.
I have a number of friends with children with trisomy 21 (aka Down or Down's syndrome) and see the struggle parents and family go through as the children grow into adulthood. I felt that much of Caroline's thoughts were right on the money.
David's photography was an interesting vehicle to separate him yet keep him an observer of life.
- Was Hoping for More Redemption
The Memory Keeper's Daughter takes place during a snowstorm in 1964. An orthopedic doctor and his wife are surprised when she goes into labor three weeks early. Because of the snow, they cannot get to the hospital, but they can get as far as the doctor's clinic, then wait for the arrival of an OB in his practice to deliver the baby. The baby is coming quickly, though, and the OB has a car accident and can't make it on time. With the assistance of one of the clinic's nurses, the husband/doctor must deliver the baby himself. Only...it's not just one baby. After bringing a beautiful, healthy boy into the world, the husband realizes his wife is actually pregnant with twins. He stays to deliver the second child - a girl, with Down's syndrome. Fearing a terrible prognosis for the life she will lead, the husband gives the baby to the nurse to take away. His initial instructions are for the nurse to take the baby to an institution outside of town. Though he plans to tell his wife the truth, when she comes back to clarity after the births, he tells her the baby girl has died. When the wife asks to see the baby, he says she is already gone, to the cemetery.
The nurse follows the doctor's instructions, and takes the baby to the group home. Seeing the terrible conditions there, she cannot bring herself to leave the child. Instead, she moves to a different city and raises the girl as her own daughter.
The book follows the story of these two worlds - the grieving parents and their son, the nurse and her adopted daughter - as they orbit around the decisions made and lies told on this one night in 1964. It's true that there is a lot of sadness in this book, but strangely, there's a lot of honesty, too. Edwards makes a close examination into how it is to love others, or try to, despite the things we keep from each other and the walls we build to keep ourselves protected. I could never relate to the specific situation in this story, but I could relate to a lot of the intricacies of family relationships - as a child, as a parent, as a spouse. I also found it interesting how Edwards explored why each of the characters did what they did - are our motivations always so clear? Are they always as innocent as we want to believe they are?
There is so much meat to this book; I am eager to discuss it at my book club's meeting in October. As I said, though, this book may certainly not be for everyone. It is thought-provoking and well-written, but a pretty heavy piece of work....more info
- I liked it, but
some of the things I liked were also some of the things that bothered me. Edwards is a descriptive writer; if you like that kind of writing, you will like her style. However, you still may not like the book. I like her writing, but it works better in short stories or shorter novels.
I liked how Nora began to grow career-wise throughout the novel, but thought her character could have been fleshed out more. I did not find her a sympathetic character, particular as the novel wore on, and I think it would have been better if she had been.
Also, I thought the plot unfolded a little too neatly in some aspects. To be sure, the characters had difficult lives, but sometimes things did not ring true. For example, Caroline didn't struggle as I thought she would have: Doro, her gift, just not very realistic. Also Davis's photography career, as opposed to a hobby, was hard to swallow. It just took off a little too well.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and I'm glad I did. It just wasn't a great book....more info
- Moments on Film
David Henry has worked his whole life to get away from the childhood he had, where his family struggled to make ends meet and died rather early in life. He has become a physician and his young wife is pregnant. On a rare snowy night in Lexington, Kentucky, she goes into labor and delivers twins, one boy and one girl. But, David realizes just after birth that his baby girl has Down Syndrome, and he worries about her fate; his own sister died of heart problems when she was still very young. So, he tells his nurse, Caroline Gill, to take her away to an institution, common during those times. Caroline brings the baby to the institution, but cannot leave her there, and instead runs away with the newborn Phoebe. David simply tells his wife that their baby girl died shortly after birth.
In the years that follow, David's carefully created family begins to fall apart, torn by the secrets each of them keep. David turns to photography, a way to capture memories on film, as a way to escape his secret and express the emotions that tear him up inside. It's not until after his death, though, that the family really understands his obsession with photography and his motivations.
The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a tragically realistic story of what it was like to be disabled in the 1960's and beyond. I have a sister with autism and can fully understand the difficulties that Phoebe, and the others in the story, go through. It's heart-wrenching, and you'll be willing the characters to go against their better judgment by the end. While the story was not likely meant to be inspiring, it can give an insight into the world of the disabled, whether it be individuals with Down Syndrome or other disorders that prevent them from being completely 'normal' in today's society.
While I understand the structure of the novel, I do wish we were given more insight into Caroline and Phoebe's world. There is so much left unsaid on that end of things because so much focus is on David and his wife, Norah, as well as their son, Paul. Perhaps because of this desire to know more about Phoebe, I found some of the sections about David and Norah to be dry and more difficult to get through. Even at the end, though, it's hard to really understand some of the characters, because they weren't fleshed out well. The setting is lacking, though perhaps purposefully. Though the story takes place in two distinct cities, it is told in a way that could really take place anywhere and at almost any time.
This is an excellent book to read, if only because of the insight it offers into a world many people aren't terribly familiar with....more info
- Good but a little long
I liked the idea of this book, but the middle of the book was really long with not much action. Maybe a good book to read if you're short on ideas, but it's not going to keep you on the edge of your seat. ...more info
- Too predictable
I can see why this was made into a movie on the Lifetime Network. Very chick flicky and very predictable....more info
- Drifting Memories
My take on this novel is that the movie was better than the book. As previous reviewers have stated, there was a lot of information distracting the reader from the meat of the plot. The unnecessary lengthy discussions are eliminated from the movie, i.e. the whole Rosemary saga (which claims a good many pages) and David's yearning and interest in saving this young girl. The basic plot is excellent and the movie (unlike the book) relays the fundamentals of Ms. Edward's story, eliminating the surplus dialogue. My advice, watch the movie and pass on the book. Kim Edwards had a great plan but her delivery and editing left much to be desired....more info
- The Destructive Power of Secrets
The novel begins on a winter night in 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. For motives he tells himself are good, he makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever.
Full of truth about the destructive power of secrets, I enjoyed this book on numerous levels.
Despite all the buzz about the book, I never bothered to read the back blurb or pay much attention to the gist of the book, because I knew I didn't want to spoil anything. I'm glad I didn't catch wind of the plot, because I would have missed the chance to be a bit shocked and to literally gasp out loud with a soft "holy ****, no he didn't."- (I love moments like that in books!)
The middle of the book (what I call- Norah's wallowing) I had to push through- but i really liked the premise and the rest the book.
An intriguing novel that deserves it's time on the best seller list as far as I'm concerned....more info
- A truce for those readers on opposite sides...
First, let me say that I understand how some readers were unable to finish the book, as quite a few readers really appreciate something that is a quick read and all story. For me personally, I loved the beautiful passages in this book, the descriptions, they are poetic and moving. I can certainly understand how it turns some readers off as it isn't particularly important to the actual story. I appreciate their comments.
Second, the story; it is indeed a fantastic premise for a book and I will assume that you already know what that premise is and if you don't you can read the synopsis on the back cover. As far as the telling of the story goes, on this point, I agree with some of the readers who have already commented that the characters themselves were frustrating. I tried to care about these people, I tried very much to like them and to understand them, but I could not. The husband, David, is so detached from his emotions, before and after, he decides to give his daughter away that I could not relate to him, even in his recollections of his sister, who he professes to love dearly, there is resentment there. He was difficult to love, however, I do believe he loved his family, he just did not know how to show them that he did, the frustrating part of it, is that he never made the effort.
As far as Norah, I could not stand her from the beginning and then she only got worse. She is extremely narcissistic, spoiled and unhappy, and instead of trying to make herself happy, she puts all the blame on her husband. She married a man she barely knew and spent the rest of her life envying everyone around her because she felt trapped and she had no freedom and her life wasn't fun, so she starts sleeping with any man that will have her, even after she finds out that her teenaged son knows this. She was so incredibly selfish...I found myself really annoyed with her. I never found myself caring about her at all. It was too difficult. So in that aspect, I agree with what some of the other readers have said in regards to the characters. As far her finding out that her daughter lived, by the end of the book, I didn't really care. I truly believe that it wouldn't' have changed things at all for this woman. And I think that is where the difficulty comes in as far as the resolution of this conflict is concerned.
And then there is Paul, the son. To me, the most obvious love David was ever able to show was for Paul, and Paul ends up feeling as if he's had this horrible childhood and his father never loved him and he can't even bother to show up for David's funeral. David was a good father to him, he wasn't perfect by any means, but if wanting your son to do more with his life than pursue a career in music is bad parenting, than shame on the world, that is a natural albeit wrong thing for parents to do, impose their own dreams on their children it certainly isn't child abuse. Considering all three of them, especially Norah and Paul who spent their lives feeling sorry for themselves and blaming it all on David (even before they knew of the "secret), for me personally, I felt more pity for David himself, having to spend his life loving (although not knowing how to show it) these two people, who could have ever cared less about him.
Now, the good points...Caroline Gill, who takes the twin sister and raises her is someone you can care about, someone you can get behind and you root for her and Al...and of course Phoebe. But these people are not in the book as nearly as much as the other three.
That being said, I believe this book deserves to be read, if only for its incredibly beautiful language. Edwards was born to be a writer, she has an incredible natural story telling talent. It's not by any means a terrible book and I don't think it deserves a one, but I can understand those reader's frustrations.
Hope this helps.
- Interesting read. provocative, worth the time
I picked this book up while in the middle of a 900 page tome that I am reading. This was a welcome break. The book kept my interest and made me think. It is mostly a sad tale with some humor and rededmption mixed in. The book reminded me that a long trail of deceit and sorrow can follow a quick decision. There are so many human dynamics to observe and ponder in this book starting with David's gut-wrenching decision. I would think that this would be a great choice for a book club; since it offers so much up for discussion. ...more info
- Boring..... but ok.
This was an ok book. I can usually whip through a novel of this size in a week or two and I have put this one down a few times and read something else. I have recently picked it back up committed to finishing what I have started.
It's a good story not great, and I would hardly recommend it to anyone who loves to read. I kept losing interest in it and never fell in love with any of the characters. ...more info
- The Memory Keeper's Daughter
After an excellent, even brilliant opening chapter, "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" descends into an overlong soap opera with little plot credibility.
Norah is one of the most negative, unsympathetic characters I have encountered in fiction. Her grief for her supposedly dead daughter Phoebe was excessive and unreal. She did not know she was expecting twins, and only learned about it after their birth. Still she wallows in self pity for years and chooses to obsess on her loss.
The reader never knows what exactly is wrong in David and Norah's marriage. The author devotes lengthy portions of the narrative to simply being vague on the issue. What is the problem? Is David withdrawn? Not attentive? Devote too much time to his photography? He does provide an affluent lifestyle for his family that allows Norah to indulge in her proclivity to redecorate every year.
By contrast the marital difficulties of Caroline and Al are explained succinctly. They had drifted apart through the logistics of daily living: something easily understood by the reader.
But one cannot understand Norah's alienation from David. Her long, wild drives in the car, endangering their son Paul.
Norah's adulterous affair with Howard (easily the biggest slimeball in modern fiction) renders her totally unsympathetic. Nor did she feel regret for any of her infidelities, although David had been faithful to her.
The nadir of the book is Norah's burning of David's photographs and negatives after finally learning the truth about Phoebe. Revenge? She had been unfaithful to her husband with several men. Was that not revenge enough? Since David's pictures now hung in museums and galleries she was burning works of art. To say nothing of destroying her son's inheritance. One suspects Norah's attempts to salvage some of the boxes of photos targeted for destruction was due to an editor's intervention rather than the character's conscience.
One is also puzzled by Paul's hostility toward David. The latter had tried to be a good and loving father. Even after his death Norah and Paul contined to trash David.
Unlike other readers I could relate to the character of Caroline. I found her interesting and credible.
"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" was tedius and choking on extraneous detail. Perhaps the author is more a poet than a novelist....more info
- More than Memories
Kim Edwards has done more than tell a story in her novel The Memory Keeper's Daughter. She's captured perfectly the heartache caused by secrets kept and vows broken. What particularly impressed me by this author is how her characters are so vivid, so real in the way they live within the limitations of their own making. When Dr. Henry can't face the thought of having a "retarded" child, he does the unthinkable and sends it away, telling his wife Nora the baby has died. He cannot see the despair he has created in his wife with the lie until much later when it is too late to reverse the terrible decision. His nurse Caroline takes the baby and raises it as her own. Edwards does a brilliant job portraying Phoebe who has Down Syndrome. Phoebe is not sentimentalized or stereotyped, but shone throughout the novel to be the real victor from the situation. Edwards novel is haunting, inspirational and deeply poignant. It creates the kind of memories that last long after the last page is read....more info
- What a memory!!!
I liked the book very much. We discussed this book in our reading group and there was a lot of polemics regarding to what David did with his daughter. The decision that he made that winter night had devastating consequences especially in the life of his wife and son. The author is very narrative, maybe that is why other people did not like the book, but it's nicely structured. Our discussion was converted into a courtroom because we did a lot of judging of the characters. I will highly recommend this book if you don't mind a lot of narrative in a good reading. ...more info
- Not Memorable Not a Keeper
This book has a great concept for a storyline, a good idea for a plot. Unfortunately, I found the writing so poor, I had to force my way through a lot of it. More like a romance novel than a literary one, it was sometimes hard to follow the flashbacks that jump around and are inserted in a clumsy way to provide background information. Dialogue was often unrealistic. The wife's anger at her husband and her degeneration into drunkenness was not portrayed realistically to me; I kept wondering "Why?" She didn't know what he had done, after all. There were a number of sophomoric stylistics, repetitions, and inconsistencies (it needed an editor!.) It would have been interesting to see this same story in the hands of a really good writer....more info
- Had to force myself to finish it.....
This book was a book club choice, so unfortunately all 700 times I wanted to put it down and never pick it up again I really couldn't. The characters were so boring and the descriptions went on and on. I actually believe there were about three pages devoted to a vaccume burning up. The story was a great idea, but the telling of it fell more than flat. I am not sure how it became a best seller...perhaps the pretty cover? I am an avid reader, and was extremely dissapointed with The Memory Keeper's Daughter....more info
- Compassionate, Revealing
The choices we make, the truth or lies that we cling to are like invisible threads running through the whole fabric of our lives. These threads connect with the threads of the people we know and love to form webs of influence.
The author skillfully spins a tale that highlights these threads. She does so by balancing the perspectives of the all the participants, allowing the reader to see with sadness and compassion the contradictions.
If this book has a somewhat melancholy tone, it is nonetheless compelling for its accuracy in describing how the inner workings of hearts and minds affect our relationships. It raises some questions very pointedly that the reader can hardly avoid reflecting on: questions about intimacy, trust, what gives a life value and meaning.
If you are looking for a mindless, escapist, fun read, this is not the book for you. However, if you want a book to engage your soul, I recommend it....more info
- Don't waste your time
I was very disappointed in this book. Read it to the end and was left with a feeling that I wasted my time. ...more info
- Well written
Once I got a quarter way through I couldn't put it down. It can be a little bit depressing at times but it is very well written. She has excellent style and descriptions, and although the past is rehashed a bit much I felt, I still would recommend this book....more info
- Downright Heartbreaking
In reading through the reviews on this book I have to say that yes, there were some things missing. But certainly not in the relationships or psyche of the main characters. The characters emotions and thoughts were so raw in this book it broke my heart, literally I was depressed for the 3 days it took me to read this book. For anyone who has gone through the loss of a child or a dark family secret, you'll relate to these characters like no other you've met. I truly believed that the author had gone through these dark times in her own life, to have been able to write so descriptively about love and loss, and all things woven into them. The loss of a child is, luckily, one that most mothers don't have to endure, it was heart-mending for me to know that in this book, our internal struggles were brought out into the light. Thank you Kim!...more info
- Well written, terribly boring.
This book is beautifully written, but goodness is it boring. The plot moves at a glacial pace in a seemingly endless cycle of sadness, guilt, dishonesty, repeat, with no resolution. I had to put the book down without finishing it as it was simply not my cup of tea. My girlfriend at the time gave it a better go than I did, but even she quit on it before finishing despite the fact that she had an outside interest in the subject matter. It really is a shame as the author is very talented in her ability to put words on the page....more info
- Painfully Slow
This book had so much promise, but it seems the author got lost in the same blizzard the night that David Henry delievered his twins. Lack of character development, too many descriptions (every. single. detail. must. be. included.) and a disappointing ending contributed to a boring, misguided novel. One star for the cover and one star for the ability to fool so many people into buying this book....more info
- Sweet, Predictable, Easy Read
Normally I eschew the "IT" novels - usually they bore me with their lack of imagination and are two dimensional and written for the "beach book" type of readers. I had no intention of reading this book but it seemed to creep up everywhere - on the front tables at Barnes & Nobles and Borders, to every thrift store I found - so I finally gave in to read it.
It wasn't as horribly romance-novel like as I expected but it didn't turn me on my head with the wonders of its use of language. It was fine for what it was and somewhat sweet. It was, however, incredibly predictable. It was obvious that the wife would feel lost, the husband would grow distant and the son would feel the stress of that kind of home. Would anyone find out that the daughter was brought up by the nurse? Would everyone bond together in the end? Sure, we all knew it was coming.
For a first novel, it was adequate. Some of the phrases were well turned but it did feel a bit like mind candy - nothing to provoke a lot of thought, no characterizations that weren't twinged with stereotype. The depth I was hoping for never arrived.
Would I recommend it? Sure, if you just want something of fluff to keep you occupied for a while. But as great literature, no. ...more info
- Decent- Worth the time
I found the Memory Keepers Daughter kept my interest. I predicted it to be a tear jerker based on subject matter, but instead it envoked anger. The journey of how could he to understanding why he did was one I was not expecting. The book was a little descriptive for me and I found myself skipping wordy sections. However, I thought the characters were well defined and found identification of myself in each of them. I have already loaned the book to others and recommended it. It is definately worth a read. ...more info
- The Memory Keeper's Screw-up.
This is the first time I've read Kim Edwards. Her writing has depth, is interesting, and moves at a good pace for me. The plot was interesting and raised many issues. It would make good fodder for a book discussion group. As the events progressed, the characterization became more complex. Was that intentional or a fluke of the story?
I couldn't give the book a five as a few things bothered me. First, it came off a little like a soap opera. The same issues were repeated again and again with no resolution. The characters never seemed to really want to solve their problems but lived in eternal angst. Didn't anyone ever hear of therapy? Also, I felt the characters were too one dimensional. I have known other people who have lost children at birth or in infancy. While the pain is always there, they are not fixated on the tragedy for decades as were these people.
The best parts illustrated some real psychological truths. Initially, you cannot live with unresolved grief. If sadness and loss are not addressed, they take over a life. Secondly, you cannot live in relationships under the shadow of a lie. Even if never mentioned, there are residual issues that affect the parties. In this way, the book was somewhat like Ibsen's "A Doll House". Finally, when you try to take life in your own hand's, trying to cheat fate, you become a prisoner of your own making. Pretty deep.
Lastly, it seemed that the males in the story were the protagonists. I found this an interesting way to approach relationship and loss that so deeply affected the female characters. Even when the primary character was removed, the emphasis transferred to the son and the mother continued to be the dependent recipient of the action rather than the originator. Did anyone else find that interesting? Nice work Ms. Edwards....more info
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