If your book club are in the mood to be drawn into a gripping page turner about entwined family secrets with plenty of ethical and moral dilemmas to consider for your monthly discussion, then ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ by Kim Edwards is just the ticket.
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THE MEMORY KEEPER'S DAUGHTER
BY KIM EDWARDS
If your book club are in the mood to be drawn into a gripping page turner about entwined family secrets with plenty of ethical and moral dilemmas to consider for your next meet, then ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ by Kim Edwards is just the ticket. First published in 2005 and made into a film starring Dermot Mulroney, Gretchen Mol and Emily Watson in 2008, it tells the story of two families torn apart when twins are separated at birth.
David and Norah are happily married and expecting their first child. When Norah goes into premature labour one winter’s night, David, a doctor himself, takes over the delivery. It is 1964, before the days of scans, so unexpectedly twins arrive. Recognising that the second baby, a little girl has Down’s syndrome, he makes the devastating decision to hand her over to his trusted nurse Caroline. He asks Caroline to drive baby Phoebe to a care home, telling his exhausted wife that although their baby girl died at birth, they still have a wonderful healthy boy, Paul.
On arriving at the institute, Caroline is unable to leave Phoebe and against character, runs away to Pittsburgh with Phoebe where they begin a challenging, but rewarding new life. The story follows the parallel but very different lives of these two families over the subsequent 25 years as both Paul and Phoebe reach adulthood until the inevitable truth is uncovered and the damage laid bare.
Whilst there are flaws in the story and the writing can seem a little contrived, The Reading Den has no doubt that there is plenty of talking points! Aside from the ethical and moral issues of David’s decision, the story raises questions of abandonment, grief, whilst also looking at the challenges and rewards of bringing up a child with Down’s syndrome – a perfect read for heated book club discussions!