Title: The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Author: Kim Edwards
1964. Lexington, KY. Pregnant Norah Asher goes into labor during the middle of a raging snowstorm. The relentless weather forces Norah and her husband Dr. David Henry, an orthopedic surgeon, to stop by his clinic for the delivery. Aided by nurse Caroline Gill, David delivers his son Paul, a healthy baby. But, David was totally unprepared for what was about to come next. A baby girl, Phoebe born with Down Syndrome -- "unmistakable features, the eyes turned up as if with laughter, the epicanthal fold across their lids, the flattened nose, the gap between her big toes and the others, Brushfield spots, as tiny and distinct as flecks of snow in the irises". David wants to spare Norah a lifetime of grief and hence makes an impulsive decision. He instructs Caroline to take Phoebe to an institution and tells Norah that Phoebe died at birth - an action he would repent forever. Caroline was too kind-hearted to leave Phoebe at the institution and she decides to raise Phoebe as her own. Caroline loves Phoebe ferociously and endures hardship to give her the education she deserves. While Phoebe grows up feeling happy and secured, Paul ends up being neglected and unloved. Norah longs to mourn for her lost child, but David refuses to acknowledge it. Their lives continue to drift apart. Grappled with grief, Norah turns her attention to a demanding career and meaningless affairs. And David is so guilt-ridden he distances himself from his own family. He seeks solace in photography. Even though his behavior is despicable, the author makes you empathize with him all along. I kept wondering if he would ever divulge the secret to Norah and the fact that he never did was unfathomable to me. Melancholy seeps through every page of this book. The characters are real, interesting and well developed. I was impressed with the way this novel explored the fragility of marriage and how love, pain and grief could shatter the basic intimacy between even the strongest bonds of relationsips. A Fascinating Read!
My Rating: 4.7/5
Other Notable Works By the Author: 'The Secrets of a Fire King' - Shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award.