The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards – Book Review

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It’s 1964, Dr David Henry’s wife, Norah, is in labour but the weather is bad and he ends up taking her to his clinic where they are tended by nurse Caroline Gill. After giving birth to Paul, it turns out she was pregnant with twins and the second had Down’s syndrome. Having lost a sister to a heart condition as a young boy and never emotionally recovering, and being aware of the risks that Down’s syndrome has to the heart, he sends the nurse off to a children’s home with the baby and tells his wife that the baby did not survive. But the nurse could not leave the child in this horrible place, and so takes the child and flees her life.

I started this and could not put it down. I was so compelled to see what would happen – how could David justify his decision? Would he ever break down and tell his wife the truth? What about Caroline? What would she do with the child? But as I went on, I felt that it dragged – no, that’s not it. The characters were fascinating in their normalcy – frustrating and stupid and complex. But I got a bit annoyed with the repetition – Norah always wondering about what the child would have been like, over and over. Caroline wondering what David and Norah really think, and fearful of having the child taken from her. David regretting and regretting more and drawing into himself – I felt like there was never a moment in any of their lives that this event did not extend into, and that just didn’t seem real. I don’t know – by the end, I was glad to have read the book, but was grateful that I was at the end.

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