The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

by Kim Edwards

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143037149
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/30/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 51,122
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kim Edwards is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which was translated into thirty-eight languages.  She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, The Lake of Dreams, and a collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King.  Her honors include the Whiting Award, the British Book Award, and USA Todays Book of the Year, as well as the Nelson Algren Award, a National Magazine Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has taught widely in the US and Asia, and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Hometown:

Lexington, Kentucky

Date of Birth:

May 4, 1958

Place of Birth:

Killeen, Texas

Education:

A.A., Cayuga Community College; B.A., Colgate University; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop; M.A., University of Iowa

Read an Excerpt

1964
THE SNOW STARTED TO FALL SEVERAL HOURS BEFORE HER labor began. A few flakes first, in the dull gray late-afternoon sky, and then wind-driven swirls and eddies around the edges of their wide front porch. He stood by her side at the window, watching sharp gusts of snow billow, then swirl and drift to the ground. All around the neighborhood, lights came on, and the naked branches of the trees turned white.
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Memory Keeper's Daughter"
by .
Copyright © 2006 Kim Edwards.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Edwards is a born novelist.”
Chicago Tribune

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

It is 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, and a rare and sudden winter storm has blanketed the area with snow. The roads are dangerous, yet Dr. David Henry is determined to get his wife, Norah, to the hospital in time to deliver their first child. But despite David’s methodical and careful driving, it soon becomes clear that the roads are too treacherous, and he decides to stop at his medical clinic instead. There, with the help of his nurse, Caroline, he is able safely to deliver their son, Paul. But unexpectedly, Norah delivers a second child, a girl, Phoebe, in whom David immediately recognizes the signs of Down syndrome.

David is a decent but secretive man—he has shared his difficult past with no one, not even his wife. It is a past that includes growing up in a poor, uneducated family and the death of a beloved sister whose heart defect claimed her at the age of twelve. The painful memories of the past and the difficult circumstances of the present intersect to create a crisis, one in which his overriding concern is to spare his beloved Norah what he sees as a life of grief. He hands the baby girl over to Caroline, along with the address of a home to which he wants her taken, not imagining beyond the moment, or anticipating how his actions will serve to destroy the very things he wishes to protect. Then he turns to Norah, telling her, “Our little daughter died as she was born.”

From that moment forward, two families begin their new, and separate, lives. Caroline takes Phoebe to the institution but cannot bear to leave her there. Thirty-one, unmarried, and secretly in love with David, Caroline has been always been a dreamer, waiting for her real life to begin. Now, when she makes her own split-second decision to keep and raise Phoebe as her own, she feels as if it finally has.

As Paul grows to adulthood, Norah and David grow more and more distant from each other. Norah, always haunted by the daughter she lost, takes a job that becomes an all-consuming career, and seeks the intimacy that eludes her with her own husband through a series of affairs. Feeling as if he’s a disappointment to his father, Paul is angry and finds his only release through music. David, tormented by his secret, looks for solace through the lens of his camera, the “Memory Keeper,” trying to make sense of his life through the images he captures.

But as The Memory Keeper’s Daughter so eloquently shows, life is a moving image, unfolding and changing beyond our control. Despite our desire to freeze a moment or to go back into the past and alter events, time presses us forward. With her heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful novel, Kim Edwards explores the elusive mysteries of grief and love, and the power of the truth both to shatter and to heal.
 


ABOUT KIM EDWARDS

Kim Edwards is the author of a short story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, which was an alternate for the 1998 PEN/Hemingway Award, and has won both a Whiting Award and the Nelson Algren Award. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she currently teaches writing at the University of Kentucky.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Q. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a powerful combination of a tragic and poignant family story as well as riveting page-turner, due primarily to the fact that it centers on such a shocking act by one individual that affects everyone he cares about. How did the idea for this novel come to you?

A few months after my story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, was published, one of the pastors of the Presbyterian church I’d recently joined said she had a story to give me. I was pleased that she’d thought of me, if a bit surprised—I was back in church after a twenty-some-year absence, and still quite skeptical of it all. Yet even to my critical eye it was clear that good things were happening: the congregation was vibrant and progressive and engaged; the co-pastors, a married couple who had both once been university professors, gave sermons that were beautifully crafted and thought-provoking, both intellectual and heartfelt. I’d already come to admire them very much. Still, it happens fairly often that people want to give me stories, and invariably those stories are not mine to tell. So I thanked my pastor, but didn’t think much more about her offer.

The next week she stopped me again. I really have to tell you this story, she said, and she did. It was just a few sentences, about a man who’d discovered, late in life, that his brother had been born with Down syndrome, placed in an institution at birth, and kept a secret from his family, even from his own mother, all his life. He’d died in that institution, unknown. I remember being struck by the story even as she told it, and thinking right away that it really would make a good novel. It was the secret at the center of the family that intrigued me. Still, in the very next heartbeat, I thought: Of course, I’ll never write that book.

And I didn’t, not for years. The idea stayed with me, however, as the necessary stories do. Eventually, in an unrelated moment, I was invited to do a writing workshop for adults with mental challenges through a Lexington group called Minds Wide Open. I was nervous about doing this, I have to confess. I didn’t have much experience with people who have mental challenges, and I didn’t have any idea of what to expect. As it turned out, we had a wonderful morning, full of expression and surprises and some very fine poetry. At the end of the class, several of the participants hugged me as they left.

This encounter made a deep impression on me, and I found myself thinking of this novel idea again, with a greater sense of urgency and interest. Still, it was another year before I started to write it. Then the first chapter came swiftly, almost fully formed, that initial seed having grown tall while I wasn’t really paying attention. In her Paris Reviewinterview, Katherine Anne Porter talks about the event of a story being like a stone thrown in water—she says it’s not the event itself that’s interesting, but rather the ripples the event creates in the lives of characters. I found this to be true. Once I’d written the first chapter, I wanted to find out more about who these people were and what happened to them as a consequence of David’s decision; I couldn’t stop until I knew.

Q. Human motivation, the simple question of why we do what we do, is often very complex, as it is here with David and his fateful decision. As his creator, were you able to sympathize in any way with his motives?

Oh, yes, certainly. Even though none of us may ever experience a moment this dramatic, nonetheless we all have similar experiences, times when we react powerfully to an event in ways we may not completely understand until much later, if at all.

I knew from the beginning that David wasn’t an evil person. He makes absolutely the wrong decision in that first chapter, but even so he acts out of what he believes are good intentions—the desire to protect Norah from grief, and even the desire to do what the medical community in that time and place had deemed best for a child with Down syndrome.

There’s much more to this, of course. David’s own grief at the loss of his sister is something he’s never confronted, never resolved. I don’t think this was unusual in that era. Grief counselors, after all, are relatively new. I remember stories, growing up, of adults in my town who had suffered terrible losses. There was a kind of silence around such people. Everyone knew their history, and the imprint of the loss was visible in the unfolding of their lives, but no one ever mentioned the person who had died.

So it was with David. His way of coping with the loss of his sister, and with the greater loss of his family that resulted, was to try to move on; to take control of his life and to push forward; to become a success in the eyes of the world. Yet even so, his grief was never far below the surface, and when Phoebe was born with Down syndrome, an event he could not anticipate or control, his old grief welled up. David’s response in that moment is as much to the past as to the present, but it takes him decades, and a trip back to the place where he grew up, to understand this.

Q. The novel begins in 1964. Do you think our attitudes toward people with disabilities have changed since then? Are we more enlightened or accepting now?

Yes, things have changed for the better over the past decades, but I’d say also that it’s an ongoing process, with much more progress yet to be made.

Certainly, writing this novel was a process of enlightenment for me. When I began this book, I didn’t know how to imagine Phoebe. I was compelled by the secret and its impact on the family, but I wasn’t very knowledgeable about Down syndrome. To create a convincing character, one who was herself and not a stereotype, without being either sentimental or patronizing, seemed a daunting task.

I started reading and researching. Also, tentatively, I started having conversations. The first couple I spoke with has a daughter whom they’d raised during the time period of this book. They were a terrific help, candid and straightforward and wise. When I showed them the opening chapter, their immediate response was that I’d gotten the doctor exactly right: the attitudes David has about Down syndrome may seem outrageous to us now, but there was a time, not all that long ago, when these ideas were widely held.

The reason attitudes have changed, quite simply, is because the parents of children with Down syndrome refused, as Caroline does in this novel, to accept imposed limitations for their children. The fight that Caroline fights during this book is emblematic of struggles that took place all over the country during this era to change prevailing attitudes and to open doors that had been slammed shut.

The changes did not and do not happen easily, or without personal costs for those who struggled—and struggle still—to make their children visible to the world. Time and again as I researched this book I heard stories of both heartbreak and great courage. Time and again, also, I was impressed with the expansive generosity of people with Down syndrome and their families, who met with me, shared their life journeys and perceptions, their joys and struggles, and were eager to help me learn. Many of them have read the book and loved it, which for me is a profound measure of its success.

Q. Your use of photography as a metaphor throughout the book is artfully done. Do you have a personal interest in photography, or did you educate yourself about it as part of the writing process?

I’m not a photographer, but for several years in college I was very good friends with people who were, some of whom, in fact, had darkrooms set up in their houses. Photography was woven into many of our conversations, and I sometimes went with my friends when they were seeking particular shots. I wasn’t at all interested in the mechanics—apertures and f-stops left me cold—but I was always fascinated by the photographs appearing in the developer, what was invisible coaxed into image by the chemical bath. It’s a slow emergence, a kind of birth, really; a moment of mystery. I was intrigued by the use of light, as well, the way too much light will erase an image on both film and paper.

I also remember being annoyed, more than once, when my friends’ need to get a photo right interfered with the moment the photo was meant to capture: at a family reunion, for instance, or a birthday party. How did the presence of the photographer change the nature of the moment? What was gained and what was lost by having the eye of the camera present?

During the very early stages of writing this novel, I read a New Yorker essay about the photographer Walker Evans that discussed many of these questions quite eloquently, reminding me of my photographer friends. Norah gave David a camera, and from there I started doing quite a lot of research. Amid many other explorations, I spent time at Eastman Kodak Museum in Rochester and read Susan Sontag’s fascinating and inspiring On Photography.

Q. The city of Pittsburgh figures quite prominently in the story and is described in very affectionate terms. (“The city of Pittsburgh gleaming suddenly before her . . . so startling in its vastness and its beauty that she had gasped and slowed, afraid of losing control of the car,” p. 91.) This is not a city that usually captures the imagination nor has it been a common setting for novels. Would you talk a bit about why you chose Pittsburgh and your personal connection, if any, to it?

I moved to Pittsburgh sight unseen—my husband and I were teaching in Cambodia when he was accepted into a Ph.D. program at The University of Pittsburgh. This was before e-mail; there were no telephones in Phnom Penh, and even electricity was often sporadic. With no clear image of Pittsburgh, we agreed to move there, visions of steel smoke and gritty industrialism hanging like a shadow when he sent in his acceptance.

Caroline’s experience crossing the Fort Pitt bridge is my own. It’s a spectacular moment: one emerges from the endless Fort Pitt tunnel onto a bridge spanning the Monogahela River, just before it merges with the Allegheny River and forms the Ohio River. Water gleams everywhere, and the buildings of the city narrow to the point between the rivers, and in the middle distance the greening hills rise up, studded with houses. The director of the MFA program at the University of Pittsburgh once confided to me how much he liked to drive visitors in from the airport, because they were invariably astonished by this view.

I spent four years in Pittsburgh and would have happily stayed there had circumstances allowed. It’s a fascinating city, rich with history and parks. It’s a wonderful city for walking, too, with beautiful old neighborhoods and places where you find yourself suddenly standing on a bluff again, gazing out over the ever-changing rivers.

Q. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, while ultimately redemptive and hopeful, reveals much of the dark side of the human experience. Actors often talk about how working on a very painful role can affect their psyche; others speak of being able simply to let it go and not have the work affect their daily lives. As a writer, how does working on such a heart-wrenching story affect your own state of mind? When you stop writing, are you able to let it go?

Well, the characters all struggle, don’t they? They walk through a lot of darkness. Yet I never found writing this book painful. In part, I think, because I identified with all the characters in this book: the one who keeps a secret and the one from whom secrets have been kept; the parent who longs for a child and the child who longs for harmony and wholeness; the wanderer and the one who stays in place. I recognized their journeys of self-discovery, in any case. I was interested in them, and I wanted to know what happened to them, and who they were. The only way to discover all that was to write the book. Also, because the novel is told through four different points of view, moving from one character’s mind to another, I was able step back from one point of view and work on another whenever I was stuck. This was very liberating, and allowed me to attain a certain level of detachment from one character while working on another.

Q. As an award-winning short story writer, you are best known for your critically acclaimed collection The Secrets of a Fire King. Would you talk a bit about how you came to write a novel, and the difference between working on a novel and a short story?

When my story collection was published, several reviewers remarked that each one contained the scope of a novel. That interested me, because the stories always felt like stories; I couldn’t imagine them being a word longer than they were. Likewise, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter was a novel from the moment I started writing. Yet despite the difference in complexity and length, writing a novel was very much like writing stories. There’s a bigger canvas in a novel, and thus more room to explore, but it’s still a process of discovery, a leap into the unknown, and an intuitive seeking of the next moment, and the next. For me, writing is never linear, though I do believe quite ardently in revision. I think of revision as a kind of archeology, a deep exploration of the text to discover what’s still hidden and bring it to the surface.

Q. Who are some of your favorite authors, and what are you currently reading?

I read a great deal. Alice Munro and William Trevor are authors whose work I return to again and again. I have just finished Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and I will read it again soon simply to savor the beauty of the language. New books by both Ursula Hegi and Sue Monk Kidd are on my desk, along with the poems of Pablo Neruda. During the writing of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter I returned to classic novels with secrets at their center, especially Dostoevsky’s extraordinary Crime and Punishment and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. I’m also midway through Thomas Mann’s quartet of novels based on the story of Joseph and his brothers; these archetypal stories are informing the next novel I plan to write, as well.

Q. What are you working on now?

I have begun a new novel, called The Dream Master. It’s set in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York where I grew up, which is stunningly beautiful, and which remains in some real sense the landscape of my imagination. LikeThe Memory Keeper’s Daughter, this new novel turns on the idea of a secret—that seems to be my preoccupation as a writer—though in this case the event occurred in the past and is a secret from the reader as well as from the characters, so structurally, and in its thematic concerns, the next book is an entirely new discovery.

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The Memory Keeper's Daughter 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1012 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of people being disappointed in this book and then some who loved it. It all depends on what your looking for. The book was not what I was looking for but it was still a good book. I read to escape every day life and disappointments and this book puts you in real life. It was very sad and depressing to see how lies and regrets will affect your future. I was crying by the time the book was done. Don't get me wrong its a good story but very sad and depressing.
1Katherine1 More than 1 year ago
The Memory Keeper's Daughter 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!
vlf1493 More than 1 year ago
The ink spilling out of an author's pen, spreading on a blank piece of paper, fresh, spontaneous, like the accidental pattern footprints make on the clean slate that is a sandy shore. Each individual pairs up words with their own finesse, secretly wishing a successful outcome. American author Kim Edwards excels in her first novel "The memory keeper's daughter" in more ways than one. With the intriguing plot, mesmerizing descriptiveness and as a whole the heartwarming message the story leaves behind. David Henry, a work-driven doctor has the miraculous ability and luck to deliver his own twins from the love of his life, Norah. When the second baby, a girl, is delivered, due to his lucid knowledge on medicine, he instantly realizes the peculiar features which make her fit into the category of a baby with down syndrome. With the intention of sparing her wife the pain, he gives it to the nurse Caroline and tells her to take her to an institute for mentally challenged children, planning to tell Norah the baby girl was a still birth. When Caroline arrives to the institute, she makes the decision of keeping the baby, Phoebe, due to the pitiful conditions of the institute. This turn Caroline takes leads to every possible problem that could have ever been thought of. From the very first page of this best selling novel, I was captured by the story, feeling and anticipating what each character was going through. With the plot revolving around such a delicate subject, children with Down syndrome, the powerful, emotional blizzard the author strikes us with is inevitable. Another key element that propels this book is the change in character perspective the author lets us perceive. With the conflict having two completely different angles, through perspective alternation we get to live beside different characters struggling with different aspects of one same problem. This novel also helps us as the readers, get the flexibility of supporting whichever side of the conflict we best relate with, not only with what the usual one-voice narrator or speaker is expressing. I also praise Kim Edwards greatly for her incredible vocabulary. The way she uses words to drown the reader in her story is impressive and not very common in novels. While reading the back of my book before actually starting to read it, I noticed how all the reviews from the most acknowledged sources esteemed Edward's way of describing to the finest detail each aspect, character, setting and situation of her story. She proved them right, and satisfied my expectations. Last but not least I can't ignore the deep message this novel conveys. From beginning to end the story circles around this one innocent little girl, tagged by society as a mongoloid, or a child suffering from Down syndrome. With David, the main character and her father, giving her away, various conflicts appear as a domino effect, deceit, affairs, redemption, secrets and more. The resolution to all this conflict leads to the simple lesson of love before interest. In conclusion, I recommend this phenomenal piece of work to all in search of a thrilling novel full of emotion, description and intriguing moments. Kim Edwards' way of writing is hypnotic. I assure anyone who succumbs to reading it will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im on the fourth chapter right now. And so far im really enjoying this book! I really recommend, especially if you have an honors english class as a freshman!
mommytsunami More than 1 year ago
If you want a light read, this isn't for you. Kim Edwards ability to weave motif and develop characters is well done in this debut novel. It isn't a beach read, but the writing is excellent. Edwards' tale draws in readers who are interested in writer's craft.
Troy Taylor More than 1 year ago
I really liked the way this read. She is a very descriptive author.
GardenerGal More than 1 year ago
When I read there were such rave reviews from other authors, plus the interesting story plot, I found myself interested but greatly disappointed by the same uniqueness. It was an absolute chore to read, although Edwards definitely made her point through the unhappiness portrayed at every turn. I felt the contrasted family other than "The Henry's" was too unrealistic, and sometimes pained me on how "perfect" things worked out for them. I didn't feel pity for any of the characters and absolutely hated Mrs. Henry throughout the book. The walk-away message: "just be truthful with each other & oneself". I can foresee how different people can maybe look through different eyes at every situation presented in this book though, so I do recommend it as a book club book, (and it luckily has a guide in the back). Why it's called "The Memory Keepers Daughter" is beside me as her role was more passive than focal. As you can see, what you see is NOT what you get from this book. If you're between reading this book and another: choose the other.
panda_j More than 1 year ago
I like this book. Especially is the author' s profound writing to describe the difference in the twin's life. The book leaps from that moment to other parallel moments in the lives of Paul and his sister,Phoebe who has Down's Syndrome, and those involved in the choices that made those lives so very different.It can be a true story about the family that has the Down's Syndrome member, and it also talk about the discrimination with the Down's Syndrome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a very slow read. Too many metaphors, far too many detailed and superfluous descriptions, in my opinion. The characters were OK, but my favorites who seemed to have the most life, were Caroline and Phoebe. Also, in a few instances, I had a sense of what was going to happen. After awhile it became a drudgery and I wanted to finish it just to finish it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, where do I start? This book was incredibly dull, and I dreaded having to read it, but I was determined to finish it, hoping that it would finally get interesting. What a letdown. It started off very good and then as the years progressed, and Norah kept whining about the loss of a child that she didn't even know she had, mind you - she had no clue she even had a second child until her husband told her - I could understand grieving for a little bit after the fact, but 20 years later, get over it. I felt the emotions were contrived, as if the author was trying to coax empathy from the reader, and it just wasn't happening. I hated the parents and when the book focused on them, because it just dragged and went nowhere. I did enjoy the Caroline/Phoebe story-line a bit more, but overall, this book was one major snooze-fest. The plot had so much potential to become a fantastic read, but unfortunately, Kim Edwards killed it with lame characters, and way too many metaphors. It was just awful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know why all novels these days have to be between 350 and 400 pages long. This story definitely could've been told in fewer pages. I almost didn't finish it because I was getting bored. The ending was disappointing, not worth the wait.
Anonymous 6 days ago
Did not feel story was realistic as far as the character's action in just about every scene. Seemed very contrived and superficial. Was expecting much better story plot from a best seller.
nycbookgirl on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This was our first book club's choice. It was so so sad and a bit depressing. During a snow storm a doctor is forced to deliever his first child, a baby boy. He is shocked to discover twins and that the second child (a girl) has developmental problems. With only his nurse as witness, he tells his wife the child is dead and the nurse takes the very much alive child away. The doctor thinks the child doesn't have long to live but the nurse secrets her out of town and raises the child. This act obviously affects many many lives. It has a lot to do with marriage, secrets, love, trust, and forgiveness (and non-forgiveness). It was a great story and written very well but it was very depressing really. I guess I tend to go for lighter books. So this is just a warning: great book but very sad.
brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Anyone who doubts that deeply-buried secrets can shatter relationships should delve into Edwards' engrossing story. Watching the doctor erect invisible barriers as he struggles with the guilt of giving away his daughter at birth is heart-wrenching. As with so many contemporary works, the story tends to meander in the middle. But Edwards delivers a powerful ending. Some of the characters, especially Phoebe, will stay with me for a long time.
mortaine on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I listened to this as an unabridged audiobook. It is a very flowery book, with tons of over-description decorating it everywhere. Normally, I would find the style irritating. In audio format, however, it's not quite as bad. I listened to it while driving and, more often, while knitting. It's definitely a good "while knitting" book. Your eyes are already engaged in something treat-ful, and then your ears start passing all this flowery imagery to your brain, so it basically gives you an overdescription high. As for the content of the book, I sort of liked it. I think I was looking for something a little different than these very sad lives orbiting each other, each person unaware of the pain the others are in. I never found any emotional honesty between the main characters (the people who actually had agency to change). For that reason, I would label this as a family tragedy.I give this one a B as well. It's good, but has some flaws that make it less than excellent.
chewbecca on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I think the concept behind the storyline of this book was a great one, but extremely difficult to execute. Her writing style is easy to read and lose yourself in, but I found that she often repeated herself and the ending was a bit anti-climactic given how dramatic the issues presented in this book were. Overall, it was a good read, but nothing was particularly outstanding.
whitebalcony on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I liked the first three quarters of the book, poignantly written and compelling. The ending could have been more.
GMac on LibraryThing 7 months ago
In a tale spanning twenty-five years, a doctor delivers his newborn twins during a snowstorm and, rashly deciding to protect his wife from their baby daughter's affliction with Down Syndrome, turns her over to a nurse, who secretly raises the child.
posthumose on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A well-meaning physician decides to spare his wife from the life of raising a child with the disability of Down's Syndrome. The child is one of twins she has just given birth to. The other child, a boy, is perfectly healthy. He orders his nurse to take the girl away to an institution and make sure no one ever knows about her. The nurse is torn by his request and does something no one would ever expect. It starts in the late 1950's and follows the couple's life with their son and the doctor's guilt over what he still believes,for reasons of this own, was the right thing to do. We get to see what happens with the other child too.This story about the difficult decisions we take upon ourselves and the consequences to everyone around us is universal,and emotionally engaging.. Hard to believe it's Kim Edward's first novel (though not her first book).
AmyLynn on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A sad look into the choices people make when a child with special needs comes into their family. The mother's unconscious knowledge that her daughter is waiting for her was an emotionally moving step. I feel a little less time should have been spent outlining how relationships are hopeless. The death at the end of the book didn't strike me as relevant to the story.For those who enjoy a bittersweet book and want to know about Down's Syndrome practices from the '60s-'80s.
WintersRose on LibraryThing 7 months ago
In 1964 Dr. David Henry delivers his wife Nora of twins, a boy and then a girl, with Down's Syndrome. Having had a beloved sister who died of Down's Syndrome at an early age, David wishes to spare Nora--and possibly himself and his son--grief, so he gives the infant Phoebe to his nurse, Caroline, to take to a home. Instead, Caroline runs away and keeps Phoebe for her own. The secret of what David has done tears his family apart over the years. Though all the characters are flawed, I cared about each one. Edwards makes their motivations realistic and sympathetic. She also portrays their individual and relational growth and development from 1964 through 1989, putting them into the American culture and political environment of those times in a very realistic manner. To top it off, Edwards writing is beautiful. She gives the reader a strong sense of time and place, much like the photographs that David takes trying to hold onto what is valuable in his life. This is a beautiful read and a topnotch discussion for book clubs.
mtranter on LibraryThing 7 months ago
David Henry delivers own babies during a storm. He chooses in an instant to give the girl, suffering Downs Syndrome to a home . Caroline 9 nurse) keeps the girl and brings her up as her own. David's decisionis to protect wife Norah from pain. Exploration of grief. Power of love. Study of humanity
madams on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I thought this book reflected the morays of the time period. How children with obvious disablities were shunned or unwanted. A good read for teens in a book club.
sammimag on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I enjoyed the story but it was so sad the choices that were made. There was a cool quote from the book I need to write down that was very unschooly to me.
thairishgrl on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I did not care for this book. The author went out of her way to make the characters multifaceted and human except for the person who is at the center of the story. She left her innocent and perfect and robbed her of her realness.