Review: The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published December 2nd, 2010 by Penguin
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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.

 My thoughts…

This is my first book by Kim Edwards and was selected by my library book club for July. When I began reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, I was so sure that it would be a five-star read for me. But, as the story began to unfold I had mixed feelings and I’m disappointed that I didn’t particularly care for it as much as I had hoped.

It's 1964 when Dr. David Henry’s wife Norah goes into labor and due to a blizzard with dangerous driving conditions Dr. Henry has no other choice but to take his wife to his nearby clinic instead of the hospital. He calls in another doctor and a nurse to assist with the delivery, but the doctor can’t get through due to the snow, which leaves David and his nurse Caroline to deliver the twins. The twins were completely unexpected so when the second baby, his daughter is born, David is in complete shook and even more so when he sees that she has Down's Syndrome.

In the moment David makes a rash decision to give his newborn daughter, Phoebe, to his nurse Caroline. David lost his own sister when she was twelve because of a heart problem and he wanted to spare his wife, himself and his newborn son Paul, the pain of possibly having to bury a child early because of complications that may come along with Down’s Syndrome. Caroline is to take the baby to a home and leave her in the care of other nurses. When Caroline gets there and see’s the conditions she realizes that she cannot leave the baby in such a place. Caroline decides to take Phoebe home with her and to raise her as her own. David then lies to his wife and tells her that their daughter died at childbirth.

This is about the time my disappointment begins, we get to see how his choice to give up his daughter and lie to his wife affects himself, Norah and Paul. We also see how Caroline is raising Phoebe. I had tremendous sympathy for Norah while she was grieving the death of her daughter, that is until she turned into a selfish adulteress. After the beach house vacation incident, I begin to care less for the characters and the story but I read on, hopeful for a reunion with Phoebe. I disliked the extremely long descriptions of things, I would have rather had more character interaction than have ordinary things described to me. The introduction of Rosemary was just strange, and then he brings her home to live with his family. I felt he was using Rosemary as a replacement for his sister who died and his daughter that he never got to know. I had to read to the very end just to get a reunion with Phoebe, and David wasn’t there, what happened to David just made me angry and I didn’t like that the author added that.

Overall, I didn't really care for The Memory Keeper’s Daughter all that much and I was surprised that so many of the book club members did liked it.

Happy Reading -J


  1. I was surprised that I didn't feel that way, I really wanted to like it. Thanks for visiting Donna, have a wonderful day. :)

  2. I've read this one! I agree with you. I thought it was so flat... the premise is good, the topic is very important, but the contents... like lukewarm tea. Meh! Although I believe I must have given it a higher rating as I read it a few years ago. But I definitely didn't like it much.