The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards was inspired by a story about a Down syndrome baby being put into an institution by his father, his mother being told he had died. The child spent his entire life in the institution.
The start of the novel is compelling, telling the story of a young married couple, Norah and David, ?set in 1964. He is a medical doctor and ends up delivering his own babies on a snowy night helped by a midwife. A healthy boy is born, followed unexpectedly by a daughter with down syndrome. As David lost a sister when he was aged about ten, a sister who always suffered from ill health and as his mother never recovered from her death, he made the sudden and dramatic decision to send the baby to an instituation via the midwife and tell his wife that their baby girl, Phoebe, had died.
The midwife, Caroline, takes the baby to the institution and finds she can’t leave her there, she returns to her flat and decides to leave the town with the baby, stopping at the baby’s memorial service just before she drives out of town.
I enjoyed the ‘Caroline’ parts of the novel, I admired her spirit in deciding to leave with the baby, her fights to gain ‘normal’ rights for Phoebe and her anxieties about her daughter’s future. ?I actually found the book to be a real page turner for the first half of the novel and then my interest really waned,?Edwards was telling us too much, inane comments about Norah being depressed as if we couldn’t work it out! Telling us that David’s decision was borne from his grief about his sister, again and again. We are reminded that this is how things were done in the 1960s and 70s, that Down syndrome children were put into institutions or special schools. ?Although I initially felt very sorry for the character Norah, imagining her pain at not having held her baby daughter and being lied to for so many years, in the end she irritated me so much that my sympathy disappeared completely!
Paul (the son) got my sympathy, denied a sibling as David didn’t want any more children in case they risked another Downs child, living with a self-obsessed father and a depressed mother. His father’s love was revealed to him after his death, when he and Norah found boxes of photographs taken of Paul through the years.
A good novel but it had flaws which lowered the standard in my opinion. There was just too much of the author stating the obvious – whatever happened to giving the reader a chance to interpret 🙂
Paul was eventually reunited with his sister towards the end of the novel when the truth is revealed after David’s death.
To read other reviewers of this book in our bloggers book club, head over to ?Jenny?and?Lily?who new blogs and the others are?,Marie,??Val,?,?Catherine,?Jenny,?SusanC,?Winifred,?Ann,?Paysan,?Susan?and?Dee. If you would like to join our book club, do get in touch. ?Our next book is The Pink Cage by Derbhile Dromey and will be reviewed the last Sunday in November.
Great review Lorna, I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who felt this way reading the book. The first half was very good and after that it just struggled on.
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I think I’ll be getting it in Amazon, the author Derbhile Dromey is on facebook, I’ll ask her if she knows of any bookshops that have it in stock
That would be good because easons said it was out of print and didn’t know where i would get it the Author might know where it can be bought .
Hi would love to join the book club how do i go about it ? I have read the memory keeper’s Daughter and i have to agree got fed up with the last half it went on a little and was tempted not to finish it >
Hi Elaine, delighted to hear it. Our next book is the Pink Cage by Derbhile Dromey which will be reviewed on the last Sunday in November. I will add you to the list. Are you on facebook and I can add you to our bloggers bookclub group there.
Hi delighted you guys will have me in the bookclub . yes am on facebook under my own name Elaine Hall. I was in easons today in dundrum and was told that book is out of print .
Lorna, sorry … I left it too late to re-read/write a full review, (the usual too much to do, too little time). I will try to get access to my old blog to get my original review. I’m interested that you didn’t like the second half. You have me curious now as to what i wrote when I read it but I know I really enjoyed it.
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When I read one of your book review posts I start to ‘dread’ finishing my book and releasing it to the public for reading and reviewing. I think I should start writing my own ‘harsh’ reviews now, what I think people might say about it in a ‘worst case scenario’ and that might soften the blow when it happens………
Oh no, Mona, did you really think it was a harsh review? Maybe it was because I had heard it was brilliant plus I thorougly enjoyed the first half. Excellent characters, it was just the book went on about 100 pages too long and I got tired of the author spelling things out.
Your book is going to be fab 🙂
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