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The Memory Keeper's Daughterby Kim Edwards
Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning writer Kim Edwards's The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a brilliantly crafted, completely riveting family drama that explores every mother's silent fear: what would happen if you lost your child, and she grew up without you?
On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split second decision that will alter of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century — in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by David Henry's fateful decision that long-ago winter night.
Rich, compulsively readable, and deeply moving, The Memory Keeper's Daughter captures the way life takes unexpected turns, and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that hold a occurs when long-buried secrets burst into the open. It is an astonishing tale of redemptive love.
"Edwards's assured but schematic debut novel (after her collection, The Secrets of a Fire King) hinges on the birth of fraternal twins, a healthy boy and a girl with Down syndrome, resulting in the father's disavowal of his newborn daughter. A snowstorm immobilizes Lexington, Ky., in 1964, and when young Norah Henry goes into labor, her husband, orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Henry, must deliver their babies himself, aided only by a nurse. Seeing his daughter's handicap, he instructs the nurse, Caroline Gill, to take her to a home and later tells Norah, who was drugged during labor, that their son Paul's twin died at birth. Instead of institutionalizing Phoebe, Caroline absconds with her to Pittsburgh. David's deception becomes the defining moment of the main characters' lives, and Phoebe's absence corrodes her birth family's core over the course of the next 25 years. David's undetected lie warps his marriage; he grapples with guilt; Norah mourns her lost child; and Paul not only deals with his parents' icy relationship but with his own yearnings for his sister as well. Though the impact of Phoebe's loss makes sense, Edwards's redundant handling of the trope robs it of credibility. This neatly structured story is a little too moist with compassion. Agent, Geri Thoma. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Edwards is a born novelist....Rich with psychological detail and the nuances of human connection." Chicago Tribune
"Unfolds from an absolutely gripping premise, drawing you deeply and irrevocably into the entangled lives of two families and the devastating secret that shaped them both. I loved this riveting story." Sue Monk Kidd
"Anyone would be struck by the extraordinary power and sympathy of The Memory Keeper's Daughter." The Washington Post
"A gripping novel, beautifully written. With amazing compassion, Kim Edwards explores the impact of a family secret that challenges the limits of love and redemption." Ursula Hegi
"Kim Edwards has created a tale of regret and redemption, of honest emotion, of characters haunted by their past. This is simply a beautiful book." Jodi Picoult
"Unfortunately, after its fast and sure-footed start, the story sags....First-novelist Edwards excels at celebrating a quiet wholesomeness but stumbles over her storyline." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] moving story of two families bound by a secret that both eats away at relationships and eventually helps to create new ones." Booklist
A #1 New York Times bestseller by Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a brilliantly crafted novel of parallel lives, familial secrets, and the redemptive power of love
Kim Edwards’s stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century—in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that winter night long ago.
A family drama, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter explores every mother's silent fear: What would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? It is also an astonishing tale of love and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets are finally uncovered.
Kim Edward‛s stunning family drama evokes the spirit of Sue Miller and Alice Sebold, articulating every mothe‛s silent fear: what would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? In 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins, he immediately recognizes that one of them has Down Syndrome and makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and to keep her birth a secret. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child as her own. Compulsively readable and deeply moving, The Memory Keepe‛s Daughter is an astonishing tale of redemptive love.
About the Author
Kim Edwards is the author of the short story collection The Secrets of a Fire King, which was an alternate for the 1998 PEN/Hemingway Award, and she has won both the Whiting Award and the Nelson Algren Award. A graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, she currently teaches writing at the University of Kentucky.
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