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The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Kim Edwards

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Penguin Books Ltd

Published : 2008

Copyright : Kim Edwards 2005

ISBN-10 : PB 0-141-03014-3
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-141-03014-2

Publisher's Write-Up

Families have secrets they hide even from themselves... it should have been an ordinary birth, the start of an ordinary happy family. But the night Dr David Henry delivers his wife's twins is a night that will haunt five lives forever. For though David's son is a healthy boy, his daughter has Down's Syndrome. And, in a shocking act of betrayal whose consequences only time will reveal, he tells his wife their daughter died while secretly entrusting her care to a nurse. As grief quietly tears apart David's family, so a little girl must make her own way in the world as best she can.

Kim Edwards's stunning family drama articulates every parent's
silent fear: what would happen if you lost your child and she grew up
without you? Compulsively readable and deeply moving, The Memory Keeper's Daughter is an astonishing tale of redemptive love that will touch the hearts of readers everywhere.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Jenika (140908) Rating (8/10)

Review by Jenika
Rating 8/10
Set in Lexington, Kentucky and spanning nearly three decades, Kim Edward's debut novel The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a beautifully written story that focuses on how one secret can destroy a loving family.

The book begins in the 1960's, where Dr. David Henry's heavily pregnant wife Norah goes into labour during a snowstorm. Unable to reach the hospital in time, Norah instead gives birth in her husband's clinic, which is empty except for the nurse Caroline Gill who harbours a secret crush for David. Here, Norah gives birth to twins; the first a healthy beautiful baby boy Paul, the second is girl named Phoebe who David immediately recognizes as having Down's Syndrome. Haunted by the memory of his sister who died from a heart defect at a young age, David gives Phoebe away to Caroline, and tells Norah the baby died at birth. It is this terrible decision that catapults him and his family into years of suffering, irrevocably changing his life and the lives of those around him.

Much of the novel's success is the intricate and dynamic characters that Edwards creates, allowing the reader to gain a deep insight into their experiences. Rather than settling for easy stereotypes such as villain or victim, Edwards creates more complex character studies, with each rich detail inviting a mixture of feelings from readers. David's abominable actions for example, are shown to be borne out of a deeper desire to protect himself from his past; also his fruitless strive for perfection can invite both hatred and pity from the reader. Norah, so beautiful and vulnerable at the beginning, begins to attract sympathy and eventually bitter regret as she starts to retaliate and seek out love elsewhere.

Other characters also come to life through Edwards' skilful writing, particularly Phoebe, whose infectious smile and lively personality leaps off the page. The growing strength and vitality of Caroline Gill is also admirable as she fights to provide Phoebe a fair right to life. Their story, so different to David and Norah's, is inspirational and heart-warming, as they struggle against society's unfair prejudices.

Edwards also uses poetic, lyrical sentences to effectively illustrate the complexity of human emotion. For example, readers see how the distance between Norah and David, "the space of a breath, opened and deepened" (Edwards 2005, p.115) over the years and the times of bitter reflection and unspoken hurt between the two. The loneliness and confusion that Paul feels from his feuding parents is also made clear by emphasizing his love for music, which serves as both his refuge and escape. The beautiful descriptions of photography also serve to add another insight into David's personality. This attention to detail allows Edwards to effectively explore the nuances of human emotion and portray realistic characters that readers can sympathize, despise, or fall in love with.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter skilfully weaves important themes within its plot, such as the values of honesty, love, trust and the painful journey of redemption. Most importantly, however, Edwards consistently reminds us to always accept others how they are - that it is not perfection that completes a character, but rather it is the flaws that make each and every person unique and beautiful.
Jenika (14th September 2008)

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