Saturday, 2 November 2013
The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
I have now read this book twice but only because it was my Reading Group’s choice for this month. I hadn’t remembered it in detail nor the ending, so I quite enjoyed reading it again and it is well worth a read.
It had me gripped from the first page to the last. It starts with a young couple, Dr David Henry and his wife Norah who are very excited about the imminent arrival of their new baby. When Norah goes into labour it's in the midst of a blizzard, David and Norah can only make it as far as David's own surgery where David delivers his perfect son. Then David delivers an unexpected twin but immediately recognizes the signs.....his daughter has Downs Syndrome. In 1964 children with Downs weren't expected to have any kind of life so David makes a decision and hands his daughter over to his nurse (Caroline Gill) and tells her to take the child to an institution where she can be looked after. Norah is under the influence of the gas and air and doesn’t know she has had a live child. David tells her that their daughter died at childbirth. When Caroline sees the place where she is to leave Phoebe she makes a decision that will change her life. She disappears with Phoebe and decides to bring her up as her own daughter. It's a decision that changes so many lives.
David lives with the lies and continues with the deceit even after he receives a note and a photograph of little Phoebe. His hobby is photography and he takes photos of everything and everyone around and earns high acclaim for his talent; hence the title, photographs being a way to keep a memory.
Norah’s grief of a lost child and his lies slowly tears the family apart and you are drawn deeper into the entangled lives of two families.
I loved the story and although it moves slowly I liked that about it. The descriptions of Phoebe as a grown young woman with Downs Syndrome were very poignant and I really felt for her and her need to be allowed to live her life as normal young woman. And although David’s decision was wrong, he thought he was protecting his wife from the anguish of having a child with Downs, and I liked him
A good read in my view.