on March 19, 2007
You'd think that just about every book on the bestseller list would be a great story with a great beginning, middle, and end. Not always the case. BUT, The Memory Keeper's Daughter IS one such book. I like to compare it to The Glass Castle in this respect, though that is a memoir.
The premise of the story is this: During a snowstorm in Kentucky, a doctor delivers his own twins. One is "normal" and one has Down Syndrome. He lies to his wife, telling her the one with DS has died. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but suffice it to say that things don't go smoothly for the doctor, his wife, the twins, or anyone else, making for one heck of a great story. I was reminded at times of Bark of the Dogwood with its dark moments, or perhaps even The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, though the books have totally different plots. Still, the pacing and writing reminded me of these novels.
Frankly I wasn't able to put this book down. If you want a good story, easy to read, and something you can recommmend to others, this is the book.
on November 28, 2006
After reading the first few chapters of this book, I was tempted to put it down and not finish it, as it was somewhat depressing for me and seemed without redeeming factors. In hindsight I was allowing the previous reviewers to influence my opinion;luckily I put that behind me and carried on reading allowing the book to carry me along on its own merits.
Now after several hours devoted to just finishing it, I am amazed at the sheer scope of this story, the volume of emotional content the author managed to convey, and the way her writing managed to draw me in; to understand her characters, their weaknesses, their sins and the healing power of forgiveness.
Did I like David or Norah, or even Caroline,Al,Paul and Phoebe? My affection, present or lacking,is irrelevant. What I liked about the book is that it strikes me as similar to my experience with people in my life, there are things about people(including myself) that I like, and things I don't like. Each one of us is human, every one of us has secrets, and we are all vulnerable, usually unbeknownst to those who know us best. What I love is this author's way of putting this story on paper, making these characters real in a way that I'll never forget them.
on December 19, 2006
"The gardens all along the alley were thick with flowers, hollyhocks and irises in every colour, their white and purple tongues vivid against the grass. In the garden a woman was working, tending a row of lush tomato plants. A hedge of lilac bushes grew up behind her, the leaves flashing their pale green undersides in a breeze that pushed the hot air without cooling it." "Is that her?" Paul asked
This is a touching story that goes right to the heart. As I read it I could not help seeing myself in these circumstances and wondering how I would have handled such a challenge, if it came my way.
Dr.David Henry and his wife Norah are a bright and almost perfect couple, but things are likely to change as she gives birth, at least a year after their marriage. When Norah gives birth to a twin, Dr. Henry does the delivery and the first child makes her debut into the world. Right away David notices that the child is a victim of Down's syndrome. With panic in his heart he gives the child to one of the nurses Caroline, asking her to take it to an infirmary, where she would be looked after with expert care. Following the birth of the second child David must tell his wife something about the first child so he decides to tell her that the child was born dead. This story hinges on this little girl's entrance into this world. You will see how the telling of one lie has influenced the life of so many people in this book. It's unbelievable.
I recommend this book as a gift for anyone.
Heather Marshall Negahdar [...]
on May 25, 2007
If you're looking for a book that you can read and then forget, this is not for you. I was haunted by this story, the way I was by Wally Lamb's "I know this Much is True" and MCcrae's "Bark of the Dogwood"---both of which I couldn't seem to put down or let go of once I'd closed the covers of the books. MEMORY is no different. I found myself asking, "What would I have done in the same situation?" I honestly don't know, but the story is well written without being overblown and wordy.
Must also recommend the novels: "Middlesex" and "The Time Traveler's Wife" for two other great books. If you want to read the same thing every time, pick one author--me? I like something different each time.
This is a book about the flaws of humanity: physical flaws, errors in judgement and the consequences of living with those flaws. It is also a book about some of the triumphs of humanity despite those flaws.
The novel contains some wonderful prose and describes some difficult choices but never really gives me one character whose role is sufficient to carry me through the challenges, triumphs and events. Perhaps there are too many secrets, too much drama and not enough trust? I'm not sure.
I am intrigued enough to want to read more by this author. Clearly, this novel has appealed to many.
on November 3, 2007
This book begins very well. The characters start off as interesting, the premise is unique and it is well written. Halfway through it gets BORING. The author repeatedly "shows" us how the premise is affecting the characters even though it is blatently obvious. Just when you've gotten through the bog and you think something is going to happen - nothing does. Instead of being described as a "tale of regret and redemption..." (back cover) it should be described as "another jerk husband doing whatever he wants and never having to take responsibility for it." Don't waste your time or money.
on November 24, 2006
The novel chronicles 25 years of the lives of the Henrys and the things that happen to them because of the secret Dr Henry has kept. The reader begins to wonder "what if" - what if Dr Henry had told his wife about the baby sooner? What if he had never lied to her at all? What if the nurse had left her at the institution? What if the nurse had not been there at all? The novel shows that a secret, especially one as big as this one, can have far reaching and long lasting effects not only on the people the secret is kept FROM but also one the one keeping the secret.
on January 1, 2007
I loved character driven novels, and THE MEMORY KEEPER'S DAUGHTER is one, just as the novels NEVER LET ME GO and THE CORRECTIONS were (all were excellent, by the way), so I took to this novel like a duck to water. Well written and even-handed without any overblown melodrama, you'll find yourself haunted by the simplicity of the writing, yet the complexity of the characters.
Highly recommended along with the novels THE GLASS CASTLE and THE CORRECTIONS. If you're looking for a great read, look for further.
on January 3, 2010
I got this book since it was on a best seller's list, and if this type of book gets on a bets sellers list i no longer will trust best sellers list!!!
the story line sounds great, father giving away a daughter since she has downs to a nurse. It sounds like a great story a great read, something different and interesting.
But the writing is boring, full of irrelevant detail. There are different narrators in every chapter ( which ususally i like) but in this book was not well done.
Unlike a review on the back cover, there is no human connection in the book.
This book is just LACKING in every way..... dont waste your time... believe me you willl be disappointed i was.....
How appropriate I found this phrase printed on the back cover. As soon as I started the first chapter, my attention was held as if of by a spell, enthralling. Page after page, the story transcendently drowns you into a captivating and emotional whirlwind and there is no going back.
1964. Doctor David Henry and his wife Norah are happily married and expecting their first child. At the clinic after the labour pains begin, it is only after their healthy boy is born that they realise that another baby is on the way. A little girl with Down's syndrome. Norah is drifting in and out of consciousness due to the fatigue of labour and the anaesthetic she has been given. In the split second that follows this second delivery, David decides to secretly give his daughter away, asking nurse Caroline, who assisted on both births, to place the baby in an institution. To Norah, he tells her that their daughter was born dead.
This secret, shattering decision by David, together with the grief brought along by this "death" and despite the joy that their newly born son represents, slowly but irrefutably has consequences that will forever be haunting. It lacerates the family.
Leaving aside the historically-speaking-moment (middle 1960's), when David's despicable decision was taken, somewhat aligned, shall we say, with the ignorance and lack of knowledge about certain issues back then -not a justification, certainly-, something else led him to act as he did, something with deeper roots than one can imagine, buried in his soul.
And what about the little girl? What happens to her? What will Caroline the nurse do?
This is the beginning of the story. Nothing more can be said without spoiling what follows. A gentle yet piercingly moving narrative, together with the need to know, to understand, and reach an epilogue, make this book a page-turner. Flaws and qualities of each character are accurately and distinguishingly described. Some physical, emotional and surroundings-related descriptions could have been shortened a bit, and it is the only reason for my 4 (and ') stars rather than 5. I especially appreciated the way the author, Ms. Edwards, approaches the Down's syndrome subject, never too superficial, sentimental or patronizing and it is unavoidable not to compare this particular side of the book with nowadays, how things have changed for the better. People with disabilities are so much more understood and integrated, it is uplifting.
On the whole, a lovely, lovely book, highly recommendable.