18 Nov 2010



It should have been an ordinary birth, the start of an ordinary happy family. But the night Dr David Henry delivers his wife's twins is a night that will haunt five lives for ever.

For though David's son is a healthy boy, his daughter has Downs syndrome. And, in a shocking act of betrayal whose consequences only time will reveal, he tells his wife their daughter died while secretly entrusting her care to a nurse.

As grief quietly tears apart David's family, so a little girl must make her own way in the world as best she can.
..... From the outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE: The snow started to fall several hours before her labor began.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: "Are you sure?" the nurse asked, looking up and meeting her eyes. "Are you really sure you want me to call a doctor?"
I don't know about a memorable moment, perhaps I should have renamed it 'Shocking Second' for this sentence refers to when Phoebe, the twin daughter, has a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting and is rushed to hospital where a nurse questions (albeit in a round-about way) if her life is worth saving.

Having worked with people who were once referred to as mongoloids/mental retards I thought I would find myself getting very emotionally involved in this story and I did but not to the extent I had expected.

To me, an interesting read rather than a particularly good read, The Memory Keeper's Daughter was too long and concentrated more on David, his wife Norah and their son (Phoebe's twin brother) Paul's story rather than that of Phoebe and 'her mother' (the nurse) Caroline which I thought was of much more interest and worth exploring more.

With fascinating insights throughout, the book dealt with how grief, secrets and disability issues can affect people and in this respect was amazing. It just went on too long (401 pages) and had major gaps in the narrative looking at the two families when 'the twins' were children aged 6, then aged 13, 18, 24 and 25.

Not as emotionally charged as I feared, The Memory Keeper's Daughter had me both laughing, crying, and, once or twice, shouting in anger as well as, on occasions, wondering exactly why a character/event occurred (I refer to the whole Rosemary episode for those of you who have read the book) and yet there was still something missing, something that I can't quite put my finger on, something that prevented the book from being all I felt it could be.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter was a hospital buy, sold to raise funds for The Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS).


Kelly said...

I've seen this book before and wondered if I would enjoy it. Although it still sounds fairly interesting, I think I might also dislike the aspects you said bothered you about it.

I always appreciate your honest reviews.

Heather said...

great review. I love the cover of this book and would probably pick it up at a sale as well.

I guess you would pass any of Jamie's cookbooks. That's okay. I suspect that you got an over abundance of him in your area. He's mostly new to me, so I can be refreshed by him and he doesn't swear and act nasty like that Gordon fellow. I do appreciate you visiting. Thanks.

SG said...

Thanks for the nice review. I am glad you spent the money on a good cause, to raise funds for The Women's Royal Voluntary Service.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

This sounds so good, thanks for the great review!!

loved your comment about keeping your cookbooks in pristine condition!! that's the way mine are too :)

Oddyoddyo13 said...

That Shocking Moment was very angering! Unbelievable.

Suko said...

Insightful review, Petty! I read this a few years ago, and thought it was quite good.

Alyce said...

I read this one a few years ago, and I agree that something was missing that kept it from being better. I remember it holding my attention, but it was not on I was crazy about.

Kavita Saharia said...

Great review PW !I still shudder when i remember my doc advising me triple test to rule out possibility of Down Syndrome .Would like to read the book .Have a nice weekend PW :):)

Jenners said...

I read this awhile ago (long enough to not recall all your references) but I remember not being as involved in it as I thought I would have been considering what happens in the story!

The Bookworm said...

I have this one sitting in my TBR but have yet to read it. Great review. Too bad it was missing that special something to make it an amazing read.

budh.aaah said...

So sad... :(

Gina said...

Well despite your lack of love for the book it as at the very least purchased for a good cause....