The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards

Although the front cover gave the impression that this would be an easy read, I think all members agreed there was more to this book than the front cover suggested.
The story of a Dr, who decides to give his handicapped daughter up at birth and how it effects their lives there on, perhaps wasn’t an original story but it was one that was full of hidden depths and gave us chance to explore different issues.

The first chapter that dealt with the birth and the subsequent removal of the daughter from his life, we all felt was a wonderful setting for the book, however some of the members felt that this did not continue throughout the rest of the book.

The first question that was raised was how someone could just remove their child from their lives so matter of fact. Some thought he immediately went into Dr mode at the delivery stage and therefore didn’t connect with the baby. Whilst some felt sympathy for this character, others disliked him immensely. However, it was noted that the Doctor had seen how having an ill child in the family had affected his own life with his sister and this was probably a strong reason why he gave his daughter up.

Why did the nurse take the baby was the next question raised. Some considered this to be part of her duty as a nurse that she would be naturally caring and couldn’t bear to leave the baby in the institution. Others thought that she was so in love with the Doctor that she felt taking the baby in and treating as her own was a continuation of that love.

However this one error of judgement structures the whole of the Dr’s family life combining the guilt of the Dr for giving up the baby, the grief of the Mother for supposedly losing a child and the misunderstanding of the son that feels he is to blame.

It was felt that the Dr did show remorse for his error of judgement, in his own way. The fact that he still keeps in touch with the nurse through the letters he receives and he hides behind his camera lens, taking and cataloguing pictures of girls that could have been his own. However, it was discussed whether he would be deemed as quite a weak character, after dying, it is left for his family to pick up the pieces and eventually find out the truth.

The one character that we don’t get to grips with, is the son, Paul. He could be described as complex and obviously has an emotional attachment to his twin sister that it feels like closure for him, when he finally reunites with her.

Although one member described some of the novel as dense, most members enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it.


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