The Memory Keeper's Daughter: A Novel by Kim EdwardsThe Memory Keeper's Daughter: A Novel by Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper's Daughter: A Novel

byKim Edwards

Paperback | May 30, 2006

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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 Edwards is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which was translated into thirty-eight languages.  She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, The Lake of Dreams, and a collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King.  Her honors include the Whiting Award, the Brit...
Title:The Memory Keeper's Daughter: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 8.2 × 5.1 × 0.8 inPublished:May 30, 2006Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143037145

ISBN - 13:9780143037149

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Good Read When I purchased this novel, the cashier at Chapters said that I would really enjoy it and I certainly did. It is about a young couple, he being a doctor, who because of a snow storm delivers his fraternal twins- one of which has Downs Syndrome. The young baby, is given to the nurse to take to a home; however, the nurse raises the daughter as her own. It is a novel about parallel lives. The nurse who raises the girl twin and how she advocates for her to become all she can be and the doctor, wife and son. Throughout the novel you get a sense that the doctor's wife knows there is something extra in her heart and the doctor's coming to terms with his decision.
Date published: 2018-05-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from DIdn't live up to it's expectations. Incredibly predictable and sentimental book.
Date published: 2018-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book This is an amazing story that will have you cry, frustrated, happy all in those pages. It's a novel about family, loss, secrets, belonging, advocacy, and personal happiness. Highly recommend it to everyone.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Single Lie Unravels All That Is Held Dear This novel revolves around three important characters; Dr. David Henry, his wife Norah Henry and Caroline Gill. During a terrible blizzard Dr. David Henry prepares to deliver his child with the help of his nurse, Caroline Gill. He first delivers a baby boy, followed by a twin girl. On discovering that the girl baby has Down’s syndrome, David takes a life-shattering decision of giving up the baby. Even before Norah wakes up, he entrusts his new born daughter to Caroline and asks her to leave her in an institution. Initially shocked at his decision, Caroline decides to raise the baby. When Norah wakes up, David lies to her that their daughter died at child birth. The rest of the novel chronicles on the life of the twins - Paul and Phoebe - who grow up in different families. And also how a single lie can completely destroy relationships.
Date published: 2017-09-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dry The premise is okay, but I found this book very slow and very dry. Took forever for stuff to start happening,and even them nothing really did.
Date published: 2017-07-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read #plumreview I liked the opposition of this book. So sad that many families were encouraged to make difficult choices.
Date published: 2017-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from quite enjoyable great book, highly recommend
Date published: 2017-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love I didn't want it to end, really enjoyed it and didn't find it to be a slow read
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I didn't love it This book was heartbreaking, yet it could've been so much more. I felt like the ending was a cop-out, and it really upset me. The author writes beautiful vivid descriptions of things, but at times it didn't seem necessary. Overall, I feel like this book had the potential to be so much more than it was.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Slow Read I found this book a slow read and not scary or a suspense like I was told.
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Where does one begin with this book? The writing? Fabulous. The characters? Intense. The story? Heartbreaking. Engaging. Emotional. Beautiful. You’ll feel the pain and grief of all the characters, and you will wish you could get right in there with them, right in the pages, and help them. You’ll want to do something. To ease their pain. Heal their wounds. Reveal the secrets that are destroying them. Instead, you will just have to flip from page to page and chapter to chapter eager to find out what happens next. And see if there’s a happy ending to this story. Read this book. It’s a great story.
Date published: 2017-03-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! Enjoyed it from start to finish!
Date published: 2017-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written Interesting and thought-provoking family drama. A reflection of society's perception of disability vs. potential. Certainly a worthwhile read.
Date published: 2017-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotional story Emotional story, don't like what the father did or how he kept such a secret from his wife,complete jerk, especially for being a doctor. The ending made me even more angry.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book I've read in a while I picture this being a very good movie. It was very well written. I loved how it followed characters for 25 years, skipping 5-7 years at a time. It helped move the story along. And suprisingly, the character development was strengthened by these lapses
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Bored out of my mind I was so bored that I had to force myself to continue, hoping it would become more interesting later on. When I first read the summary in the back, it gave hope of an adventure, of twins separated by birth who later on reunites with each other. However, I was truly disappointed and regret the purchase.
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An ok read This was a book that I had to force myself to finish. It was an ok book but I find that it just didn't do S very good job at keeping the readers interest. Too many parts of the book talked about things that didn't really matter to the story.
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEAUTIFUL This novel still touches my heart. The way Kim Edwards describes the characters feelings and the way human nature really can come out and surprise you. I love the way she narrates and brings the story to life. You will not get through this book without crying or getting really emotional. Prepare a tissue box beside you because it is beautifully written and heartwarming.
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Luke-warm I have mixed reviews on this book.. It was an amazing concept, it kept me wanting more! However, it was also much to slow with a lot of throw away moments that were unnecessary.
Date published: 2016-12-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read I thought it was a very sweet story!
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Loving it Much too slow paced for me, personally. The plot just wasn't interesting enough for me to even read the whole thing
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Plateau This book grabs your attention right at the beginning, but then has a major plateau, for about 250 pages. The whole middle portion just drags on and is quite uneventful. Its not until within the last 100 pages that the book grabs your attention again. I'm the kind of person who likes to read books more than once and I won't be reading this one again. This book had potential to be a lot better.
Date published: 2012-04-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from depressing and slow the concept of the book is really good and i picked it up thinking it would be amazing. You could have done so much with the story unfortunatly the who book was depressing and sad with no really love, happiness or triumph it was just slow and painful to finish
Date published: 2011-11-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Read I wasn't sure how to title this review. I found this book left me feeling sad. I wanted to try to "fix" the problems the characters were having! Not an uplifting novel but still a good read.
Date published: 2011-08-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from touching I had to read the novel for my english class and was amazed when i found myself tied to the novels compelling story. It takes place during the 1960's and onwards. The tale of how one choice can impact the rest of ones life and the people around them. The story has two perspectives, one of Phoebe/ Caroline and the other is from the perspective of David Henry. As time continues each family faces hardships they must over come and endure. Truly a gripping novel once one gets into the story line. It will touch the hearts and minds of many.
Date published: 2011-07-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for me... I was really looking forward to reading this book, and based on the synopsis, it should have been right up my alley, but sadly it wasn't. I struggled to finish this one, I wasn't invested in either the story or any of the characters, and at first I thought it was me, but after reading other peoples reviews, it's just one of those novels you either love it or you hate it! It was a disappointing read for me.
Date published: 2011-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It may continue to get better in my mind as I think back on it. 3.75 stars It's 1964. David Henry is a doctor, and in a snowstorm, must deliver his own baby. To his surprise, after his baby boy is born, a twin emerges. The twin sister has Downs Syndrome and in a split second decision, he asks the nurse who is helping him to take her away to an institution. The nurse, Caroline, can't do it and she takes the baby girl away to raise on her own. David tells his wife, Norah, that the little girl was dead. At first, I didn't like the amount of detailed description; it was too much for me. But, as the story went on, the description either got to be less, or I just got used to it and didn't notice so much anymore. The chapters switched between David, Norah & their son, Paul and Caroline & the little girl, Phoebe, as Paul and Phoebe grew up and David and Norah's marriage seemed to have a big hole in it that couldn't be filled. In the end, it was good. It got better and better for me towards the end. I suspect this might be one that will continue to get better in my mind, as I think back on it.
Date published: 2011-01-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I wanted more! From the plot outline on the back of this book, the story sounded like it could be a good one. And while it started off good, it seemed to go nowhere. Nothing happened. I lost interest in the characters and struggled to finish this book. I didn't want to give up in case something exciting happened. It didn't. Definitely not a book I'll keep on my shelf.
Date published: 2010-09-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read This book was such a great read. Intriguing and haunting.
Date published: 2010-08-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very nice read I really enjoyed the book and would really like to read it again.
Date published: 2010-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Read This was a very touching story and a great read. I just couldn't put it down! I highly recommend it to all readers.
Date published: 2010-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from ***Great Book- Surprised Me***** How does your life weigh on you? I read all of the reviews on this website before I started the book and I had a somewhat dire expectation of the novel. But a friend recommended it to me and so I trusted that opinion and started in on it. I wasn’t disappointed - actually I was quite impressed. My concern was that the novel would be one of those that built an entire story around only one event and that after a few chapters this event would not be enough to sustain an entire book (a recent example for me was The Good Mayor- a bit tired). But I didn’t think this was the case with this story. This is not really an action-based novel that takes you from one event to another, thus keeping your interest through a rapidly changing story-line. It is more of an introspection and examination of thoughts and decisions and how they might take us on one tangent in our lives versus another. How hiding something or NOT doing something causes a whole chain of events we can’t control. That sounds a bit academic and really it’s not. The author is thorough in description and the writing is dense; I found reading 100 pages of this book like 200 pages of other authors. She shifts nicely back and forth between memories and manages those transitions smoothly. I liked the writing style, though one or two unusually florid sentences made me stop. She varies the voice between four separate characters and presents the fathers perspective reasonably well. I found myself thinking that this book was not an imagined life or an expected life but a real one and I think that is pretty effective writing. I would recommend this book.
Date published: 2009-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This story is one that I would think is really difficult to write and put into words but this book was beautifully written. The character development is spot on, the story is real and so sad but so captivating and heartbreaking that it is only natural to not want to put this novel down. The storyline is simple yet, the emotion is complex and thought provoking. This novel just really is a masterpiece and an absolutely fantastic read.
Date published: 2009-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Heartbreaking tale. Kim Edwards is so effective in how she tells the story that the reader sees the good and bad sides of all of the characters. It makes it hard to assign blame to any of the characters for the paths that they take.
Date published: 2009-10-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Ugggh! Found this a tedious and boring read... good story line ~ but fraught with waaayyyy too much detail. I'm not a fan of painfully lengthy, descriptive verbology... and this was one of those. Next!
Date published: 2009-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A story that stays with you for a long time... I remember everyone reading this book when it came out -- on the subway, on the street, but I wasn't enticed. Finally, I gave in, and it has become one of those books that I always wonder, why didn't I want to read it? I absolutely loved it. What I found most interesting was how the author is able to make the husband, who is established as the antagonist, likable and sympathetic, and the wife, who is the victim, into an unlikable character. Perfect for a book club as there's so much to discuss.
Date published: 2009-07-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Touching and Enjoyable I really had no idea what to expect when I began reading this book. My teacher, knowing I'm always reading, had literally placed the book in my hands in class and told me to give it a try, and so I did. It's 1964. When David Henry is forced to deliver his own twins and discovers that one, his daughter, has Down Syndrome, he makes a decision, deciding to send the baby girl to an institution and telling his wife later that the child had died in childbirth. The nurse, Caroline, he had told to send the girl, Phoebe, to an institution decides to raise the girl herself and moves to another city to start a new life with no old connections. In the meantime, David and his wife, Norah, seem more distanced with the loss, but are determined to raise their son Paul. The novel then proceeds to fast forward every couple of years, showcasing the effects of the decision that David Henry made (through his viewpoint, Norah's, Caroline's, and later on, Paul's) and how even though he had good intentions, that decision will set events in motion, ones that he could never have predicted. I enjoyed the novel from start to finish as we 'watch' one family slowly tear apart while another one grows. A story about love, choices made and their consequences (whether good or bad), and ultimately, one of hopeful redemption.
Date published: 2009-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from unforgettable! This book was amazing. It was heartbreaking, twisted, beautiful, and so emotionally charged. I read it in just hours. I could not put it down even for a second. This is one for the shelf that will be read over and over again.
Date published: 2009-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Memory Keeper's Daughter This was an AMAZING family novel. Haven't read much family novels but I ABSOLUTELY loved this book. It made me cry buckets, I couldn't stop. Even after reading the novel, I felt something weird in my heart, like my heart was achingly bleeding from pain. Kim Edwards DEFINITELY knows how to play around with her words and make a beauty out of it :) In the version I read there were questions from various fans that the author answered and how she came about this book. I definitely recommend this to ALL readers out there. A must read novel! :) Happy Reading =)
Date published: 2009-04-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A little disappointing but still a good read I was really excited to read this book. In the beginning I thought it was great, but then it seemed to really drag for me. I felt the character development was really great and the book was well written, it was an enjoyable read but just not as great as I was expecting.
Date published: 2009-03-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from get on with it! I had a hard time wanting to finish this book! I kept hoping that it would get better with every page I turned, but it didn't. I didn't care for the ending at all. And as if the character David could hold on to that secret for his whole life. His life with his wife couldn't get any worse, so instead of being eaten alive by your secret why wouldn't you just put it out there? I just didn't find his character believable. I'm glad I didn't buy this book. Borrow it if you can, if you're still interested in reading this book, as I did. Or better yet don't waste your time.
Date published: 2008-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Memory keepers Daughter Oh how things have changed in the world! This book is amazing everyone should read it. It is a message of tolerance for people with Down Syndrome is as dignified and moving as a sermon. It touched my heart I myself have a daughter with Down Syndrome.
Date published: 2008-09-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Sad story, and sad review The reviews for this book is so controversial! From the look of the loads of excellent praises on the book cover, it usually means that this work has its merits - at least for the circle of authors, professional reviewers and publishers. However, fellow readers seem to either love it or hate it (this is very different from a love hate relationship - for that at least there's love in hate). Just a glimpse of all the contradicting reviews here at indigo. Sorry, I have to put in my vote for the thumbs down. I guess, higher the expectation, bigger the disappointment. The story was supposed to be sad, but the writings didn't grip my heart. Now that's sad.
Date published: 2008-09-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Unbelievably disappointing. I can't describe how unbelievably disappointed I was in this novel. I had heard nothing but good things from reviews and friends, however, I would gladly give this book away for free. While I did enjoy the authors concept of the novel, I felt that it could have been approached in a much different and more interesting way. When I read the back of the novel, I was instantly interested, too bad everything listed on the back happened within the first chapter, because of this I felt that 400 pages was entirely way too long and could have been wrapped up in 200. I felt as though this book never got going. I kept waiting and waiting for something to happen and felt like nothing MAJOR ever did happen. I literally had to force myself to finish this novel and it took me quite a while.
Date published: 2008-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Read Throughly enjoyed this story.
Date published: 2008-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Liked Being a mother of special needs kids I could see both sides of the story. I really liked it.
Date published: 2008-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Book! Remember how many times your mom has told you that nothing good comes out of a lie? Well, this is exactly what happens when a husband lies to his wife. Even though his intentions were good it has devastating effects on every member of his family. I couldn't put his book down!!!
Date published: 2008-07-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from i felt like pulling my hair out Thinking that this book is a New York Times Bestseller, its got to be good. Well I was very disappointed. The book really fustrated me. It dragged on and on. I will however give credit to the author for coming up with an interesting concept for the story, it just could have been developed in a different, more interesting way.
Date published: 2008-04-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Ok, but not the best... I found myself skipping chapters and had a hard time staying interested. The best part of the book would have to be near the end.
Date published: 2008-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! Well written story, kept good pace and had very interesting characters.
Date published: 2008-03-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Like the flogging of a dead horse... I felt like saying.. get over it already! It had a good premise, but the best part about this book was when it was over. No dept to it at all, it was repetitive, redundant and I found I could skip paragraphs at a time without really missing much. I kept waiting for the `big` thing to happen.. the climax.. and it never did. Very disappointing.
Date published: 2008-02-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wow, What a story! Kim Edwards truly captures the emotional turmoil, regret and anger that her characters face. It just goes to show how one decision and secret can slowly destroy a family and change a persons life forever. A bit sad, but a great read.
Date published: 2008-02-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Slow Starter Intrigued by the title and the description of the book I was disappointed by the slow start, I found it difficult to read more than 10 pages at a time. However, I was not disappointed after reaching the 3/4 mark of the book, at this point I found it difficult to put down and couldn't wait to find out what happened next.
Date published: 2008-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book This was a great book. The stories of the characters were skillfully intertwined with lovely twists.
Date published: 2008-02-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not so great When I bought this book I was really looking forward to reading it. It sounded like it was going to be emotional and heart wrenching. It was neither. I found the story to drag on and was quite predictable. The characters seemed very detached. I had hoped this was going to be a book that I couldn't put down, instead it was a book I found hard to pick back up.
Date published: 2008-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I loved every minute of this book. When I first started to read this book I could not put it down. It is one of my favorite books. I was drawn into the stories of the characters as if I was watching them live their lives. I was amazed at how deep this book went. My heart was filled with warmth and so much love as a read this novel. I will read it a million more times and still be touched.
Date published: 2008-02-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unexpected I started this book expecting it to be heart wrenching and emotional, but it wasn't at all. There was a detached feeling about the story, which I eventually attributed to the personalities of the doctor and nurse involved, that left me sort of wanting more. At the same time, I liked the way the author would at times add major plot twists with very little warning, requiring me to shift my thinking about where the story was going. Although this story wasn't at all what I expected, I did enjoy it and have passed it along to friends who also agree.
Date published: 2008-02-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Frustrating book I thought this would be an interesting book. It has a great premise - a dark secret that splits a family in two, years of sounded like an good story. Wrong. This book was frustrating! To begin, I felt disconnected. It's hard to get into the story, because you feel like you're an outsider looking in from far, far away. Elements that don't matter (mainly scenery) are described in extensive detail, while important parts of the characters' lives are glossed over, so it's difficult to understand how they are feeling. The characters were poorly developed, and frankly, annoying. They said things no one would ever say (especially the children!), and the author had a bad habit of italicizing the mothers' thoughts about their children, which was also really fake and irritating. Most of all, the characters are selfish (including Caroline Gill), and I found it almost impossible to sympathize with any of them. The reviews on the back of the book RAVE about its use of language. I couldn't disagree more. The author used the same metaphors over and over, but not as a clever just seemed like she has a limited vocabulary. She used water metaphors excessively (everything was 'like a stream' or 'moved in waves'), used the expression 'warm as breath' multiple times, and actually referred to something as being as 'seductive' as a sheet of white paper. The book dragged on, and when it was all over, I just couldn't find the point! I would not recommend this book.
Date published: 2008-02-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from BAD!!!! I really don't know how so many people could have loved this book. It was not written well, the author tried too hard. The characters were so annoying. The mother and son were especially irrational and melodramatic. I really do not understand what the hype is about. The idea was somewhat original but how it was developed was just BAD.
Date published: 2008-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sweet melancholy... Beautifully written, tragic and joyous, this story shows the melancholy of the tragic web a secret can weave.
Date published: 2008-01-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This book is wonderful. I enjoyed the narrative being done by various characters and even though I found it hard to get into once I did it was worth the read - I could barely put it down.
Date published: 2008-01-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A good read - but leaves you wanting Kim Edwards immediately hooked me as she began to spin her tale: a snowy night, deserted streets, a split-second decision that will change everything. A new father, in search of a life free from flaws and disappointment , does the unthinkable. Throughout the story, at every turn in the lives of the characters, I found myself pondering how these lives could have been different if it had been possible to have that moment back. The ending is satisfying, but the journey to the end, not as much. I was troubled by the lack of development in several key characters and the large gaps in the story's timeline. Also perplexing was the photographic "theme" woven throughout the book -- I wanted to see the connections, but they seemed forced. I can still classify it, however, as a "good read", perfect for a snowy evening of your own.
Date published: 2008-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heart Wrenching This book was so hard to put down! Edwards does a wonderful job of highlighting the power of choice, consequences and regret. David's choice changes all of his relationships and leaves him filled with regret. His choice is motivated by love and the duty to protect and yet he feels isolated because of it. A marvelous look into the human conscience. If you like sad stories - this is the book for you.
Date published: 2008-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great yet frustrating I am part of a book club and this was the first book we had to read. I really enjoyed the book. I was always so absorbed in the book, waiting for the moment that the doctor would confess. At the end I felt no closure was provided to the wife and son in the story and felt so angry at the doctor. I think that was my only disappointment when it came to this novel, the ending I wanted, the ending that I thought the doctor wanted never transpired! Great but frustrating.
Date published: 2008-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hauntingly beautiful I read the back of this book and knew I had to read this. The story is a haunting tale of a doctor who delivers his own twins; upon realizing that is daughter has Down Syndrome tells a nurse to take her away. The story follows the choice the doctor made and how it affects their lives......
Date published: 2008-01-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Okay I picked this book up as I had read some reviews that suggested it was an excellent read. I found it never really took off. I kept reading thinking okay maybe it will come to a fascinating ending however it just sort of moved along. I will not be recommending.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Amazing. I loved this book to death, couldn't put it down. I never ever thought I would like it, honestly it sat on my shelve since October. Has anyone else on here read it or thought of reading it? I would definately suggest it to anyone.
Date published: 2008-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing!!! form the moment i started reading this book i could not put it down. i think it was so great, it really makes you question what you would do in the situation.
Date published: 2008-01-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Memory Keeper's Daughter The memory keeper's daughter was like watching a tv show drama. It kept me addicted to reading, always wanting more. The characters were not easily identified with, but the plot was interesting. It was definitely a fun book to read.
Date published: 2008-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book I Read This Christmas Break Memory Keeper's Daughter was the best book I read over the break. The story line illustrated the impact a secret can have on many lives. The characters were beleivable and flawed, the story was heartrenching and beautiful, showing the capablity of human forgiveness.
Date published: 2008-01-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A book that makes you think! I really enjoyed this book, it focuses on an idea that many people think about, a fork in the road of life and what happens as a result of choosing to go one way, and what may have been if you chose the other. A good read, I would recommend it.
Date published: 2007-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome This was just a book that I picked up in Costco one day. I could not put it down, it was so amazing. It is a truely inspirational story of one quick decision that changes the characters lives forever. I definately recommend this book to anyone who believes in the power of love.
Date published: 2007-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Story This is the story of a husband and wife, who are about to have their first child. Set in the 60's, a snowstorm leads to the husband (who is a doctor) delivering the baby. The birth goes through with no problems, just one big surprise, there are actually 2 babies! As the second baby emerges the husband sees the telltale marks of down syndrome and in fear, passes the second baby to the nurse telling her to take it to a nearby institution. The story continues tracking each persons life who was affected by the night of the children's birth... a touching story.
Date published: 2007-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic, Thought-Provoking Read! I met this book with apprehension especially after the first chapter because you know that the first action is going to have repercussions throughout the book. Edwards does a masterful job in portraying a family broken up by a secret - and how the secret of one impacts the lives of many. Edwards' characters are strong individuals who react within the family. The ending is a bittersweet one where tension is released but with longing for the undoing of the first action.
Date published: 2007-11-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from 100 pages too long... Everyone is raving about Kim Edwards' book, The Memory Keeper's Daughter. The Library Journal said "first time novelist Edwards has written a heart-wrenching book, by turns light and dark, literary and suspenseful. A natural for book discussions groups; recommended." The Memory Keeper's Daughter follows the lives of Dr. David Henry and his wife Norah at the beginning of their married lives. It is 1964 and Norah is pregnant. She delivers twins, a boy first and then a girl with Down syndrome. David makes the decision to keep the little girl a secret, handing her to his nurse, Caroline, with instructions to take her to an institution- not an uncommon thing for the time when babies born with Down weren't expected to live long or healthy lives. This decision shapes all the characters in the book in unexpected and complicated ways. I didn't like the book- but I was in the minority when we discussed it at book club last night. The characters- all of them- are chilly people and it was very hard to find their emotional center. But not everyone agreed with me. Most of the women in my group felt enormously sorry for Norah- who didn't have a chance to say goodbye to her daughter...and who suffered enormously because of the secret her husband kept from her. The guilt of his decision haunted and shaped David- who already had some serious issues. Their marriage was irreparably damaged; Norah's relationship with her son, Paul, was tentative. The book was easily 100 pages too long. Still- many people will love this book. Just not me.
Date published: 2007-11-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing Was looking forward to reading this....found it a little boring and predictable.
Date published: 2007-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read I loved this book....I read it in 3 days. As each character went through various emotional and life stages, only one character truly lived her life.
Date published: 2007-08-13
Date published: 2007-08-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Too Long - not believable this book had so many plots and subplots it was unbelievable and hard to stay focused. I was very disappointed.
Date published: 2007-07-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing I heard a lot of good things about this book but found it a tough slog. It was very boring and dragged on in patches so I found myself skimming through paragraphs which I don't usually do. The last quarter of the book picked up a bit but crashed again with a very blunt and predictable ending. This definitely did not evoke any of the same emotions a Picoult novel would and she gave it a glowing review on the cover..
Date published: 2007-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read I loved this book. I found the story to be filled with so many emotional threads that each of us can relate to. Can't wait for her next book.
Date published: 2007-07-08
Date published: 2007-07-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Thought it would be better I'd heard a lot about this book, but quite frankly, I found it a little boring. It had me interested at the beginning, but it just took too long to unfold.
Date published: 2007-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This novel I could not put down. I wanted to keep knowing more and more. You felt as though you were really there living this story with them.
Date published: 2007-04-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing! I am two thirds through it and I honestly don't think I can finish it. It is a very boring read. I like the storyline and characters, but delivery is too slow.
Date published: 2007-04-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Surprised I could not put this book down from the moment I started to read it. The author kept you wanting to know more. Great in depth detail which made you feel like you know these people. The only thing that bothered me about this book is the author explained everything in such great detail throughout the entire book but then at the ending I found it just ended. It was like the author got tired of writing the book and just ended it. It would have been better if the author concentrated on the ending in such great detail as was done throughout the book.
Date published: 2007-04-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not as good as I was expecting...... I had huge expectations for this book as it received a lot of buzz in the media and within my circle of friends. However, I was very disappointed at how boring it was! It was such a struggle to get through. I understand that we are supposed to be on an emotional journey with all the characters, but there was too much "memory tripping" and not enough story. The ending was very anti-climatic and disappointing.
Date published: 2007-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well done I really enjoyed this book and thought that it was extremely well written. The character development was superb and the storyline was nail-biting. It kept me up late quite a few nights, so it must have been good! I will recommend it to many people, for sure.
Date published: 2007-03-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad, just not as great as I'd hoped I struggled through this book. I kept reading only because I liked the authors' style. I didn't find it engrossing until the last hundred pages, or so. I found it long, & had "dry patches". Still, not too bad, I've definitely read worse.
Date published: 2007-02-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So much to learn. This story allows you to feel the pain of all of it's characters. Beautifully told and hard to put down. There are so many things to learn from this book. I loved it and would recommend it to everyone.
Date published: 2007-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptionally well written I absolutely loved this book. It was a bit slow at first, but after the first chapter, I couldn't put it down. One of those books that keeps you up past midnight reading as you want to know what happens next. I would have liked a better ending, but I guess my expectations were too high.
Date published: 2007-01-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not a good read I chose this book because it was a best seller. I had higher expectations. I was disappointed. The story is so long, too much details and no plot. I wouldn't recommend this book.
Date published: 2007-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well worth reading This book kept me totally absorbed. I found the plot - or the irony within the plot - to be very true to life. Dr. Henry sought to keep his family safe from heartache, which is ironic when what he did caused enourmous heartache for everyone involved. Interesting, sad, and hopeful. Would highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2007-01-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not a great choice. I purchased this book based on reviews I had read. I was disappointed I had not waited longer to read more reviews. I found this book interesting a first, then it really lost my interest quickly , with the exception of a few faint plot lines that kept coming in and out of the story. At the end I was glad I read it through but would not recommend it as a good read to everyone. I think for someone who has a challenged child in their life, or whose life has been changed by the loss of a child... they might get more out of it.
Date published: 2007-01-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just Okay I had much higher expectations for this book. I found it a bit scattered with characters entering and leaving before you knew very much about them or their purpose in the overall plot. I'm not sorry I read it but doubt I would recommend it to anyone.
Date published: 2007-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book I really enjoyed this book - it kept me up at night to see what was happening next. The characters were well drawn.
Date published: 2007-01-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Weak Characters I actually didnt like this book. I thought the characters were very weak. Didnt really know enough about them to really like or dislike them. When something major happens to the main character it is summarized in one sentence. I will not recommend this book.
Date published: 2006-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very good piece of fiction! This book pulled me in from the beginning and it kept my interest until the last page. It was well written and intelligent. I will look for this authors work again.
Date published: 2006-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful ***** I just finished reading Memory Keepers Daughter. I have to say it was different than I expected, but that being said, it was really gripping. I had a hard time putting it down and doing what I was supposed to be doing, but I read it in a day and a half..It kept me so interested and in the end made me really look at my priorities. I have chosen it for my Book Club group which I am hosting for the Christmas club and I know that they will all enjoy it. I especially like that there is a discussion summary at the end. The club really likes that and it is amazing to me how many different 'takes on a theme' that you can get from a group of people. I look forward to reading a lot more from Kim Edwards...keep up the great writing. I wish I had your talent.
Date published: 2006-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Novel No words can adequately describe the emotions this book stirs as Edwards eloquently writes detailed accounts of four people's interconnected lives. This book is so well-written, interesting, and beautifully complicated. I laughed, cried, and rejoiced at the characters' triumphs and failures. This book is my new favourite book beating the likes of Kite Runner and Memoirs of a Geisha. This is an absolute must read!
Date published: 2006-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good good story This book took me a little while to "get into it", but once I did, I flew through it. The story was great, if a little slow in places.
Date published: 2006-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Story!!!! I have read many books, and think that this is by far one of the best stories I have read in a long time. This was a very well-written story. As I was reading it, I felt as though I was part of the family. The author made it very easy to understand the choices that each character makes and despite these choices, to still accept the characters. I felt very connected to each character's pain and feelings. I think that everyone can relate to one of the characters. It is definitely a must-read! I cannot wait until this author writes another great novel.
Date published: 2006-09-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent! Loved it.... I am totally the type of person that judges a book by its cover, the cover grabbed my attention and the words held me there. Like others have said, its not an action packed book, but it has a story line that plays on your emotional heart strings and keeps you going along for ride. Couldn't put it down and enjoyed each minute I read.
Date published: 2006-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVE BOOKS Working in a bookstore I decided that I really had to expand my reading horizons past the regular authors that I read. Upon reading the back of this book it sounded like it would be a good read. And it was, the plot just lured you in and I kept reading until I was finished. Even when I wasn't reading it, busy working or whatever I was thinking about it and what would happen. I would reccommend this book to others, I found it a great book and am very happy that I picked it up off the shelf. No regrets!
Date published: 2006-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Story!!! I couldn't wait to start this book and I wasn't disappointed!! It's a great story, very well written. I can't wait for her to write more!
Date published: 2006-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mesmerizing! The Memory Keeper's Daughter is an absolutely mesmerizing book. I loved every minute of it! It's intense, emotional and beautifully written! The best book I have had the pleasure of reading in years!
Date published: 2006-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very good read Liked the book alot. Not lots of action but loaded with personal feelings. What would you do? Dr David Henry is the father of twins he delivers during a snowstorm. The twin boy is perfect but the twin sister is obviously Downs Syndrome. Because he experienced the illness and death of his beloved sister as well as the pain and anquish his mother experienced, and his own father's inability to talk about his feelings, Dr Henry is gripped with the decision with what to do with the girl twin.
Date published: 2006-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very well written I really enjoyed this book. It's about a set of twins born to a doctor & his wife. The doctor (orthopedic dr.) has to deliver his own babies because of a bad snow storm. The fact that it was twins was a surprise, the first baby, a boy was perfect in every way. The second a girl with down syndrome. The father decides to send the downs daughter to an institution & explains to his wife that the second baby was born dead. The nurse that helped with the delivery, who had a crush on the dr. ends up loving & caring for the girl on her far away but occasionally keeping in touch with the real father (dr.) but he has no idea where she is living. There is many bumps along the way. This is a real keeper. I highly recommend.
Date published: 2006-08-18

Read from the Book

1964March 1964ITHE SNOW STARTED TO FALL SEVERAL HOURS BEFORE HER labor began. A few flakes first, in the dull gray late-afternoon sky, and then wind-driven swirls and eddies around the edges of their wide front porch. He stood by her side at the window, watching sharp gusts of snow billow, then swirl and drift to the ground. All around the neighborhood, lights came on, and the naked branches of the trees turned white.After dinner he built a fire, venturing out into the weather for wood he had piled against the garage the previous autumn. The air was bright and cold against his face, and the snow in the driveway was already halfway to his knees. He gathered logs, shaking off their soft white caps and carrying them inside. The kindling in the iron grate caught fire immediately, and he sat for a time on the hearth, cross-legged, adding logs and watching the flames leap, blue-edged and hypnotic. Outside, snow continued to fall quietly through the darkness, as bright and thick as static in the cones of light cast by the streetlights. By the time he rose and looked out the window, their car had become a soft white hill on the edge of the street. Already his footprints in the driveway had filled and disappeared.He brushed ashes from his hands and sat on the sofa beside his wife, her feet propped on pillows, her swollen ankles crossed, a copy of Dr. Spock balanced on her belly. Absorbed, she licked her index finger absently each time she turned a page. Her hands were slender, her fingers short and sturdy, and she bit her bottom lip lightly, intently, as she read. Watching her, he felt a surge of love and wonder: that she was his wife, that their baby, due in just three weeks, would soon be born. Their first child, this would be. They had been married just a year.She looked up, smiling, when he tucked the blanket around her legs."You know, I've been wondering what it's like," she said. "Before we're born, I mean. It's too bad we can't remember." She opened her robe and pulled up the sweater she wore underneath, revealing a belly as round and hard as a melon. She ran her hand across its smooth surface, firelight playing across her skin, casting reddish gold onto her hair. "Do you suppose it's like being inside a great lantern? The book says light permeates my skin, that the baby can already see.""I don't know," he said.She laughed. "Why not?" she asked. "You're the doctor.""I'm just an orthopedic surgeon," he reminded her. "I could tell you the ossification pattern for fetal bones, but that's about it." He lifted her foot, both delicate and swollen inside the light blue sock, and began to massage it gently: the powerful tarsal bone of her heel, the metatarsals and the phalanges, hidden beneath skin and densely layered muscles like a fan about to open. Her breathing filled the quiet room, her foot warmed his hands, and he imagined the perfect, secret, symmetry of bones. In pregnancy she seemed to him beautiful but fragile, fine blue veins faintly visible through her pale white skin.It had been an excellent pregnancy, without medical restrictions. Even so, he had not been able to make love to her for several months. He found himself wanting to protect her instead, to carry her up flights of stairs, to wrap her in blankets, to bring her cups of custard. "I'm not an invalid," she protested each time, laughing. "I'm not some fledgling you discovered on the lawn." Still, she was pleased by his attentions. Sometimes he woke and watched her as she slept: the flutter of her eyelids, the slow even movement of her chest, her outflung hand, small enough that he could enclose it completely with his own.She was eleven years younger than he was. He had first seen her not much more than a year ago, as she rode up an escalator in a department store downtown, one gray November Saturday while he was buying ties. He was thirty-three years old and new to Lexington, Kentucky, and she had risen out of the crowd like some kind of vision, her blond hair swept back in an elegant chignon, pearls glimmering at her throat and on her ears. She was wearing a coat of dark green wool, and her skin was clear and pale. He stepped onto the escalator, pushing his way upward through the crowd, struggling to keep her in sight. She went to the fourth floor, lingerie and hosiery. When he tried to follow her through aisles dense with racks of slips and brassieres and panties, all glimmering softly, a sales clerk in a navy blue dress with a white collar stopped him, smiling, to ask if she could help. A robe, he said, scanning the aisles until he caught sight of her hair, a dark green shoulder, her bent head revealing the elegant pale curve of her neck. A robe for my sister who lives in New Orleans. He had no sister, of course, or any living family that he acknowledged.The clerk disappeared and came back a moment later with three robes in sturdy terry cloth. He chose blindly, hardly glancing down, taking the one on top. Three sizes, the clerk was saying, and a better selection of colors next month, but he was already in the aisle, a coral-colored robe draped over his arm, his shoes squeaking on the tiles as he moved impatiently between the other shoppers to where she stood.She was shuffling through the stacks of expensive stockings, sheer colors shining through slick cellophane windows: taupe, navy, a maroon as dark as pig's blood. The sleeve of her green coat brushed his and he smelled her perfume, something delicate and yet pervasive, something like the dense pale petals of lilacs outside the window of the student rooms he'd once occupied in Pittsburgh. The squat windows of his basement apartment were always grimy, opaque with steel-factory soot and ash, but in the spring there were lilacs blooming, sprays of white and lavender pressing against the glass, their scent drifting in like light.He cleared his throat—he could hardly breathe—and held up the terry cloth robe, but the clerk behind the counter was laughing, telling a joke, and she did not notice him. When he cleared his throat again she glanced at him, annoyed, then nodded at her customer, now holding three thin packages of stockings like giant playing cards in her hand."I'm afraid Miss Asher was here first," the clerk said, cool and haughty.Their eyes met then, and he was startled to see they were the same dark green as her coat. She was taking him in—the solid tweed overcoat, his face clean-shaven and flushed with cold, his trim fingernails. She smiled, amused and faintly dismissive, gesturing to the robe on his arm."For your wife?" she asked. She spoke with what he recognized as a genteel Kentucky accent, in this city of old money where such distinctions mattered. After just six months in town, he already knew this. "It's all right, Jean," she went on, turning back to the clerk. "Go on and take him first. This poor man must feel lost and awkward, in here with all the lace." "It's for my sister," he told her, desperate to reverse the bad impression he was making. It had happened to him often here; he was too forward or direct and gave offense. The robe slipped to the floor and he bent to pick it up, his face flushing as he rose. Her gloves were lying on the glass, her bare hands folded lightly next to them. His discomfort seemed to soften her, for when he met her eyes again, they were kind.He tried again. "I'm sorry. I don't seem to know what I'm doing. And I'm in a hurry. I'm a doctor. I'm late to the hospital."Her smiled changed then, grew serious."I see," she said, turning back to the clerk. "Really, Jean, do take him first."She agreed to see him again, writing her name and phone number in the perfect script she'd been taught in third grade, her teacher an ex-nun who had engraved the rules of penmanship in her small charges. Each letter has a shape, she told them, one shape in the world and no other, and it is your responsibility to make it perfect. Eight years old, pale and skinny, the woman in the green coat who would become his wife had clenched her small fingers around the pen and practiced cursive writing alone in her room, hour after hour, until she wrote with the exquisite fluidity of running water. Later, listening to that story, he would imagine her head bent beneath the lamplight, her fingers in a painful cluster around the pen, and he would wonder at her tenacity, her belief in beauty and in the authoritative voice of the ex-nun. But on that day he did not know any of this. On that day he carried the slip of paper in the pocket of his white coat through one sickroom after another, remembering her letters flowing one into another to form the perfect shape of her name. He phoned her that same evening and took her to dinner the next night, and three months later they were married.Now, in these last months of her pregnancy, the soft coral robe fit her perfectly. She had found it packed away and had held it up to show him. But your sister died so long ago, she exclaimed, suddenly puzzled, and for an instant he had frozen, smiling, the lie from a year before darting like a dark bird through the room. Then he shrugged, sheepish. I had to say something, he told her. I had to find a way to get your name. She smiled then, and crossed the room and embraced him.The snow fell. For the next few hours, they read and talked. Sometimes she caught his hand and put it on her belly to feel the baby move. From time to time he got up to feed the fire, glancing out the window to see three inches on the ground, then five or six. The streets were softened and quiet, and there were few cars.At eleven she rose and went to bed. He stayed downstairs, reading the latest issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. He was known to be a very good doctor, with a talent for diagnosis and a reputation for skillful work. He had graduated first in his class.Still, he was young enough and—though he hid it very carefully— unsure enough about his skills that he studied in every spare moment, collecting each success he accomplished as one more piece of evidence in his own favor. He felt himself to be an aberration, born with a love for learning in a family absorbed in simply scrambling to get by, day to day. They had seen education as an unnecessary luxury, a means to no certain end. Poor, when they went to the doctor at all it was to the clinic in Morgantown, fifty miles away. His memories of those rare trips were vivid, bouncing in the back of the borrowed pickup truck, dust flying in their wake. The dancing road, his sister had called it, from her place in the cab with their parents. In Morgantown the rooms were dim, the murky green or turquoise of pond water, and the doctors had been hurried, brisk with them, distracted.All these years later, he still had moments when he sensed the gaze of those doctors and felt himself to be an imposter, about to be unmasked by a single mistake. He knew his choice of specialties reflected this. Not for him the random excitement of general medicine or the delicate risky plumbing of the heart. He dealt mostly with broken limbs, sculpting casts and viewing X-rays, watching breaks slowly yet miraculously knit themselves back together. He liked that bones were solid things, surviving even the white heat of cremation. Bones would last; it was easy for him to put his faith in something so solid and predictable.He read well past midnight, until the words shimmered senselessly on the bright white pages, and then he tossed the journal on the coffee table and got up to tend to the fire. He tamped the charred fire-laced logs into embers, opened the damper fully, and closed the brass fireplace screen. When he turned off the lights, shards of fire glowed softly through layers of ash as delicate and white as the snow piled so high now on the porch railings and the rhododendron bushes.The stairs creaked with his weight. He paused by the nursery door, studying the shadowy shapes of the crib and the changing table, the stuffed animals arranged on shelves. The walls were painted a pale sea green. His wife had made the Mother Goose quilt that hung on the far wall, sewing with tiny stitches, tearing out entire panels if she noted the slightest imperfection. A border of bears was stenciled just below the ceiling; she had done that too. On an impulse he went into the room and stood before the window, pushing aside the sheer curtain to watch the snow, now nearly eight inches high on the lampposts and the fences and the roofs. It was the sort of storm that rarely happened in Lexington, and the steady white flakes, the silence, filled him with a sense of excitement and peace. It was a moment when all the disparate shards of his life seemed to knit themselves together, every past sadness and disappointment, every anxious secret and uncertainty hidden now beneath the soft white layers. Tomorrow would be quiet, the world subdued and fragile, until the neighborhood children came out to break the stillness with their tracks and shouts and joy. He remembered such days from his own childhood in the mountains, rare moments of escape when he went into the woods, his breathing amplified and his voice somehow muffled by the heavy snow that bent branches low, drifted over paths. The world, for a few short hours, transformed.He stood there for a long time, until he heard her moving quietly. He found her sitting on the edge of their bed, her head bent, her hands gripping the mattress."I think this is labor," she said, looking up. Her hair was loose, a strand caught on her lip. He brushed it back behind her ear. She shook her head as he sat beside her. "I don't know. I feel strange. This crampy feeling, it comes and goes."He helped her lie down on her side and then he lay down too, massaging her back. "It's probably just false labor," he assured her. "It's three weeks early, after all, and first babies are usually late." This was true, he knew, he believed it as he spoke, and he was, in fact, so sure of it that after a time he drifted into sleep. He woke to find her standing over the bed, shaking his shoulder. Her robe, her hair, looked nearly white in the strange snowy light that filled their room."I've been timing them. Five minutes apart. They're strong, and I'm scared."He felt an inner surge then; excitement and fear tumbled through him like foam pushed by a wave. But he had been trained to be calm in emergencies, to keep his emotions in check, so he was able to stand without any urgency, take the watch, and walk with her, slowly and calmly, up and down the hall. When the contractions came she squeezed his hand so hard he felt as if the bones in his fingers might fuse. The contractions were as she had said, five minutes apart, then four. He took the suitcase from the closet, feeling numb suddenly with the momentousness of these events, long expected but a surprise all the same. He moved, as she did, but the world slowed to stillness around them. He was acutely aware of every action, the way breath rushed against his tongue, the way her feet slid uncomfortably into the only shoes she could still wear, her swollen flesh making a ridge against the dark gray leather. When he took her arm he felt strangely as if he himself were suspended in the room, somewhere near the light fixture, watching them both from above, noting every nuance and detail: how she trembled with a contraction, how his fingers closed so firmly and protectively around her elbow. How outside, still, the snow was drifting down. He helped her into her green wool coat, which hung unbuttoned, gaping around her belly. He found the leather gloves she'd been wearing when he first saw her, too. It seemed important that these details be right. They stood together on the porch for a moment, stunned by the soft white world."Wait here," he said, and went down the steps, breaking a path through the drifts. The doors of the old car were frozen, and it took him several minutes to get one open. A white cloud flew up, glittering, when the door at last swung back, and he scrambled on the floor of the backseat for the ice scraper and brush. When he emerged his wife was leaning against a porch pillar, her forehead on her arms. He understood in that moment both how much pain she was in and that the baby was really coming, coming that very night. He resisted a powerful urge to go to her and, instead, put all his energy into freeing the car, warming first one bare hand and then the other beneath his armpits when the pain of the cold became too great, warming them but never pausing, brushing snow from the windshield and the windows and the hood, watching it scatter and disappear into the soft sea of white around his calves."You didn't mention it would hurt this much," she said, when he reached the porch. He put his arm around her shoulders and helped her down the steps. "I can walk," she insisted. "It's just when the pain comes.""I know," he said, but he did not let her go.When they reached the car she touched his arm and gestured to the house, veiled with snow and glowing like a lantern in the darkness of the street."When we come back we'll have our baby with us," she said. "Our world will never be the same."The windshield wipers were frozen, and snow spilled down the back window when he pulled into the street. He drove slowly, thinking how beautiful Lexington was, the trees and bushes so heavy with snow. When he turned onto the main street the wheels hit ice and the car slid, briefly, fluidly, across the intersection, coming to rest by a snowbank. "We're fine," he announced, his head rushing. Fortunately, there wasn't another car in sight. The steering wheel was as hard and cold as stone beneath his bare hands. Now and then he wiped at the windshield with the back of his hand, leaning to peer through the hole he'd made. "I called Bentley before we left," he said, naming his colleague, an obstetrician. "I said to meet us at the office. We'll go there. It's closer."She was silent for a moment, her hand gripping the dashboard as she breathed through a contraction. "As long as I don't have my baby in this old car," she managed at last, trying to joke. "You know how much I've always hated it."He smiled, but he knew her fear was real, and he shared it. Methodical, purposeful: even in an emergency he could not change his nature. He came to a full stop at every light, signaled turns to the empty streets. Every few minutes she braced one hand against the dashboard again and focused her breathing, which made him swallow and glance sideways at her, more nervous on that night than he could ever remember being. More nervous than his in first anatomy class, the body of a young boy peeled open to reveal its secrets. More nervous than on his wedding day, her family filling one side of the church, and on the other just a handful of his colleagues. His parents were dead, his sister too.There was a single car in the clinic parking lot, the nurse's powder-blue Fairlane, conservative and pragmatic and newer than his own. He'd called her, too. He pulled up in front of the entrance and helped his wife out. Now that they had reached the office safely they were both exhilarated, laughing as they pushed into the bright lights of the waiting room.The nurse met them. The moment he saw her, he knew something was wrong. She had large blue eyes in a pale face that might have been forty or twenty-five, and whenever something was not to her liking a thin vertical line formed across her forehead, just between her eyes. It was there now as she gave them her news: Bentley's car had fishtailed on the unplowed country road where he lived, spun around twice on the ice beneath the snow, and floated into a ditch."You're saying Dr. Bentley won't be coming?" his wife asked. The nurse nodded. She was tall, so thin and angular it seemed the bones might poke from beneath her skin at any moment. Her large blue eyes were solemn and intelligent. For months, there had been rumors, jokes, that she was a little bit in love with him. He had dismissed them as idle office gossip, annoying but natural when a man and single woman worked in such close proximity, day after day. And then one evening he had fallen asleep at his desk. He'd been dreaming, back in his childhood home, his mother putting up jars of fruit that gleamed jewel-like on the oilcloth-covered table beneath the window. His sister, age five, sat holding a doll in one listless hand. A passing image, perhaps a memory, but one that filled him simultaneously with sadness and with yearning. The house was his but empty now, deserted when his sister died and his parents moved away, the rooms his mother had scrubbed to a dull gleam abandoned, filled only with the rustlings of squirrels and mice.He'd had tears in his eyes when he opened them, raising his head from the desk. The nurse was standing in the doorway, her face gentled by emotion. She was beautiful in that moment, half smiling, not at all the efficient woman who worked beside him so quietly and competently each day. Their eyes met, and it seemed to the doctor that he knew her—that they knew each other—in some profound and certain way. For an instant nothing whatsoever stood between them; it was an intimacy of such magnitude that he was motionless, transfixed. Then she blushed severely and looked aside.She cleared her throat and straightened, saying that she had worked two hours overtime and would be going. For many days, her eyes would not meet his.After that, when people teased him about her, he made them stop. She's a very fine nurse, he would say, holding up one hand against the jokes, honoring that moment of communion they had shared. She's the best I've ever worked with. This was true, and now he was very glad to have her with him."How about the emergency room?" she asked. "Could you make it?"The doctor shook his head. The contractions were just a minute or so apart."This baby won't wait," he said, looking at his wife. Snow had melted in her hair and glittered like a diamond tiara. "This baby's on its way.""It's all right," his wife said, stoic. Her voice was harder now, determined. "This will be a better story to tell him, growing up: him or her."The nurse smiled, the line still visible though fainter, between her eyes. "Let's get you inside then," she said. "Let's get you some help with the pain."He went into his own office to find a coat, and when he entered Bentley's examination room his wife was lying on the bed, her feet in the stirrups. The room was pale blue, filled with chrome and white enamel and fine instruments of gleaming steel. The doctor went to the sink and washed his hands. He felt extremely alert, aware of the tiniest details, and as he performed this ordinary ritual he felt his panic at Bentley's absence begin to ease. He closed his eyes, forcing himself to focus on his task."Everything's progressing," the nurse said, when he turned. "Everything looks fine. I'd put her at ten centimeters; see what you think."He sat on the low stool and reached up into the soft warm cave of his wife's body. The amniotic sac was still intact, and through it he could feel the baby's head, smooth and hard like a baseball. His child. He should be pacing a waiting room somewhere. Across the room, the blinds were closed on the only window, and as he pulled his hand from the warmth of his wife's body he found himself wondering about the snow, if it was falling still, silencing the city and the land beyond."Yes," he said, "ten centimeters.""Phoebe," his wife said. He could not see her face, but her voice was clear. They had been discussing names for months and had reached no decisions. "For a girl, Phoebe. And for a boy, Paul, after my great-uncle. Did I tell you this?" she asked. "I meant to tell you I'd decided.""Those are good names," the nurse said, soothing."Phoebe and Paul," the doctor repeated, but he was concentrating on the contraction now rising in his wife's flesh. He gestured to the nurse, who readied the gas. During his residency years, the practice had been to put the woman in labor out completely until the birth was over, but times had changed—it was 1964—and Bentley, he knew, used gas more selectively. Better that she should be awake to push; he would put her out for the worst of the contractions, for the crowning and the birth. His wife tensed and cried out, and the baby moved in the birth canal, bursting the amniotic sac. "Now," the doctor said, and the nurse put the mask in place. His wife's hands relaxed, her fists unclenching as the gas took effect, and she lay still, tranquil and unknowing, as another contraction and another moved through her."It's coming fast for a first baby," the nurse observed."Yes," the doctor said. "So far so good."Half an hour passed in this way. His wife roused and moaned and pushed, and when he felt she had had enough—or when she cried out that the pain was overwhelming—he nodded to the nurse, who gave her the gas. Except for the quiet exchange of instructions, they did not speak. Outside the snow kept falling, drifting along the sides of houses, filling the roads. The doctor sat on a stainless steel chair, narrowing his concentration to the essential facts. He had delivered five babies during medical school, all live births and all successful, and he focused now on those, seeking in his memory the details of care. As he did so, his wife, lying with her feet in the stirrups and her belly rising so high that he could not see her face, slowly became one with those other women. Her round knees, her smooth narrow calves, her ankles, all these were before him, familiar and beloved. Yet he did not think to stroke her skin or put a reassuring hand on her knee. It was the nurse who held her hand while she pushed. To the doctor, focused on what was immediately before him, she became not just herself but more than herself; a body like other bodies, a patient whose needs he must meet with every technical skill he had. It was necessary, more necessary than usual, to keep his emotions in check. As time passed, the strange moment he had experienced in their bedroom came to him again. He began to feel as if he were somehow removed from the scene of this birth, both there and also floating elsewhere, observing from some safe distance. He watched himself make the careful, precise incision for the episiotomy. A good one, he thought, as the blood welled in a clean line, not letting himself remember the times he'd touched that same flesh in passion.The head crowned. In three more pushes it emerged, and then the body slid into his waiting hands and the baby cried out, its blue skin pinking up.It was a boy, red-faced and dark-haired, his eyes alert, suspicious of the lights and the cold bright slap of air. The doctor tied the umbilical cord and cut it. My son, he allowed himself to think. My son. "He's beautiful," the nurse said. She waited while he examined the child, noting his steady heart, rapid and sure, the long-fingered hands and shock of dark hair. Then she took the infant to the other room to bathe him and to drop the silver nitrate into his eyes. The small cries drifted back to them, and his wife stirred. The doctor stayed where he was with his hand on her knee, taking several deep breaths, awaiting the afterbirth. My son, he thought again."Where is the baby?" his wife asked, opening her eyes and pushing hair away from her flushed face. "Is everything all right?""It's a boy," the doctor said, smiling down at her. "We have a son. You'll see him as soon as he's clean. He's absolutely perfect."His wife's face, soft with relief and exhaustion, suddenly tightened with another contraction, and the doctor, expecting the afterbirth, returned to the stool between her legs and pressed lightly against her abdomen. She cried out, and at the same moment he understood what was happening, as startled as if a window had appeared suddenly in a concrete wall."It's all right," he said. "Everything's fine. Nurse," he called, as the next contraction tightened.She came at once, carrying the baby, now swaddled in white blankets."He's a nine on the Apgar," she announced. "That's very good."His wife lifted her arms for the baby and began to speak, but then the pain caught her and she lay back down. "Nurse?" the doctor said, "I need you here. Right now."After a moment's confusion the nurse put two pillows on the floor, placed the baby on them, and joined the doctor by the table. "More gas," he said. He saw her surprise and then her quick nod of comprehension as she complied. His hand was on his wife's knee; he felt the tension ease from her muscles as the gas worked. "Twins?" the nurse asked.The doctor, who had allowed himself to relax after the boy was born, felt shaky now, and he did not trust himself to do more than nod. Steady, he told himself, as the next head crowned. You are anywhere, he thought, watching from some fine point on the ceiling as his hands worked with method and precision. This is any birth. This baby was smaller and came easily, sliding so quickly into his gloved hands that he leaned forward, using his chest to make sure it did not fall. "It's a girl," he said, and cradled her like a football, face down, tapping her back until she cried out. Then he turned her over to see her face.Creamy white vernix whorled in her delicate skin, and she was slippery with amniotic fluid and traces of blood. The blue eyes were cloudy, the hair jet black, but he barely noticed all of this. What he was looking at were the unmistakable features, the eyes turned up as if with laughter, the epicanthal fold across their lids, the flattened nose. A classic case, he remembered his professor saying as they examined a similar child, years ago. A mongoloid. Do you know what that means? And the doctor, dutiful, had recited the symptoms he'd memorized from the text: flaccid muscle tone, delayed growth and mental development, possible heart complications, early death. The professor had nodded, placing his stethoscope on the baby's smooth bare chest. Poor kid. There's nothing they can do except try to keep him clean. They ought to spare themselves and send him to a home. The doctor had felt transported back in time. His sister had been born with a heart defect and had grown very slowly, her breath catching and coming in little gasps whenever she tried to run. For many years, until the first trip to the clinic in Morgantown, they had not known what was the matter. Then they knew, and there was nothing they could do. All his mother's attention had gone to her, and yet she had died when she was twelve years old. The doctor had been sixteen, already living in town to attend high school, already on his way to Pittsburgh and medical school and the life he was living now. Still, he remembered the depth and endurance of his mother's grief, the way she walked up hill to the grave every morning, her arms folded against whatever weather she encountered.The nurse stood beside him and studied the baby."I'm sorry, doctor," she said.He held the infant, forgetting what he ought to do next. Her tiny hands were perfect. But the gap between her big toes and the others, that was there, like a missing tooth, and when he looked deeply at her eyes he saw the Brushfield spots, as tiny and distinct as flecks of snow in the irises. He imagined her heart, the size of a plum and very possibly defective, and he thought of the nursery, so carefully painted, with its soft animals and single crib. He thought of his wife standing on the sidewalk before their brightly veiled home, saying, Our world will never be the same.The baby's hand brushed his, and he started. Without volition he began to move through the familiar patterns. He cut the cord and checked her heart, her lungs. All the time he was thinking of the snow, the silver car floating into a ditch, the deep quiet of this empty clinic. Later, when he considered this night—and he would think of it often, in the months and years to come: the turning point of his life, the moments around which everything else would always gather—what he remembered was the silence in the room and the snow falling steadily outside. The silence was so deep and encompassing that he felt himself floating to a new height, some point above this room and then beyond, where he was one with the snow and where this scene in the room was something unfolding in a different life, a life at which he was a random spectator, like a scene glimpsed through a warmly lit window while walking on a darkened street. That was what he would remember, that feeling of endless space. The doctor in the ditch, and the lights of his own house burning far away."All right. Clean her up, please," he said, releasing the slight weight of the infant into the nurse's arms. "But keep her in the other room. I don't want my wife to know. Not right away." The nurse nodded. She disappeared and then came back to lift his son into the baby carrier they'd brought. The doctor was by then intent on delivering the placentas, which came out beautifully, dark and thick, each the size of a small plate. Fraternal twins, male and female, one visibly perfect and the other marked by an extra chromosome in every cell of her body. What were the odds of that? His son lay in the carrier, his hands waving now and then, fluid and random with the quick water motions of the womb. He injected his wife with a sedative, then leaned down to repair the episiotomy. It was nearly dawn, light gathering faintly in the windows. He watched his hands move, thinking how well the stitches were going in, as tiny as her own, as neat and even. She had torn out a whole panel of the quilt because of one mistake, invisible to him.When the doctor finished, he found the nurse sitting in a rocker in the waiting room, cradling the baby girl in her arms. She met his gaze without speaking, and he remembered the night she had watched him as he slept."There's a place," he said, writing the name and address on the back of an envelope. "I'd like you to take her there. When it's light, I mean. I'll issue the birth certificate, and I'll call to say you're coming.""But your wife," the nurse said, and he heard, from his distant place, the surprise and disapproval in her voice.He thought of his sister, pale and thin, trying to catch her breath, and his mother turning to the window to hide her tears."Don't you see?" he asked, his voice soft. "This poor child will most likely have a serious heart defect. A fatal one. I'm trying to spare us all a terrible grief."He spoke with conviction. He believed his own words. The nurse sat staring at him, her expression surprised but otherwise unreadable, as he waited for her to say yes. In the state of mind he was in it did not occur to him that she might say anything else. He did not imagine, as he would later that night, and in many nights to come, the ways in which he was jeopardizing everything. Instead, he felt impatient with her slowness and very tired all of a sudden, and the clinic, so familiar, seemed strange around him, as if he were walking in a dream. The nurse studied him with her blue unreadable eyes. He returned her gaze, unflinching, and at last she nodded, a movement so slight as to be almost imperceptible."The snow," she murmured, looking down.But by midmorning the storm had begun to abate, and the distant sounds of plows grated through the still air. He watched from the upstairs window as the nurse knocked snow from her powder-blue car and drove off into the soft white world. The baby was hidden, asleep in a box lined with blankets, on the seat beside her. The doctor watched her turn left onto the street and disappear. Then he went back and sat with his family.His wife slept, her gold hair splayed across the pillow. Now and then the doctor dozed. Awake, he gazed into the empty parking lot, watching smoke rise from the chimneys across the street, preparing the words he would say. That it was no one's fault, that their daughter would be in good hands, with others like herself, with ceaseless care. That it would be best this way for them all.In the late morning, when the snow had stopped for good, his son cried out in hunger, and his wife woke up."Where's the baby?" she said, rising up on her elbows, pushing her hair from her face. He was holding their son, warm and light, and he sat down beside her, settling the baby in her arms."Hello, my sweet," he said. "Look at our beautiful son. You were very brave."She kissed the baby's forehead, then undid her robe and put him to her breast. His son latched on at once, and his wife looked up and smiled. He took her free hand, remembering how hard she had held onto him, imprinting the bones of her fingers on his flesh. He remembered how much he had wanted to protect her."Is everything all right?" she asked. "Darling? What is it?""We had twins," he told her slowly, thinking of the shocks of dark hair, the slippery bodies moving in his hands. Tears rose in his eyes. "One of each.""Oh," she said. "A little girl too? Phoebe and Paul. But where is she?"Her fingers were so slight, he thought, like the bones of a little bird."My darling," he began. His voice broke, and the words he had rehearsed so carefully were gone. He closed his eyes, and when he could speak again more words came, unplanned."Oh, my love," he said. "I am so sorry. Our little daughter died as she was born."

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTIONIt is 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, and a rare and sudden winter storm has blanketed the area with snow. The roads are dangerous, yet Dr. David Henry is determined to get his wife, Norah, to the hospital in time to deliver their first child. But despite David’s methodical and careful driving, it soon becomes clear that the roads are too treacherous, and he decides to stop at his medical clinic instead. There, with the help of his nurse, Caroline, he is able safely to deliver their son, Paul. But unexpectedly, Norah delivers a second child, a girl, Phoebe, in whom David immediately recognizes the signs of Down syndrome.David is a decent but secretive man—he has shared his difficult past with no one, not even his wife. It is a past that includes growing up in a poor, uneducated family and the death of a beloved sister whose heart defect claimed her at the age of twelve. The painful memories of the past and the difficult circumstances of the present intersect to create a crisis, one in which his overriding concern is to spare his beloved Norah what he sees as a life of grief. He hands the baby girl over to Caroline, along with the address of a home to which he wants her taken, not imagining beyond the moment, or anticipating how his actions will serve to destroy the very things he wishes to protect. Then he turns to Norah, telling her, “Our little daughter died as she was born.”From that moment forward, two families begin their new, and separate, lives. Caroline takes Phoebe to the institution but cannot bear to leave her there. Thirty-one, unmarried, and secretly in love with David, Caroline has been always been a dreamer, waiting for her real life to begin. Now, when she makes her own split-second decision to keep and raise Phoebe as her own, she feels as if it finally has.As Paul grows to adulthood, Norah and David grow more and more distant from each other. Norah, always haunted by the daughter she lost, takes a job that becomes an all-consuming career, and seeks the intimacy that eludes her with her own husband through a series of affairs. Feeling as if he’s a disappointment to his father, Paul is angry and finds his only release through music. David, tormented by his secret, looks for solace through the lens of his camera, the “Memory Keeper,” trying to make sense of his life through the images he captures.But as The Memory Keeper’s Daughter so eloquently shows, life is a moving image, unfolding and changing beyond our control. Despite our desire to freeze a moment or to go back into the past and alter events, time presses us forward. With her heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful novel, Kim Edwards explores the elusive mysteries of grief and love, and the power of the truth both to shatter and to heal. ABOUT KIM EDWARDSKim Edwards is the author of a short story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, which was an alternate for the 1998 PEN/Hemingway Award, and has won both a Whiting Award and the Nelson Algren Award. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she currently teaches writing at the University of Kentucky. DISCUSSION QUESTIONSQ. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a powerful combination of a tragic and poignant family story as well as riveting page-turner, due primarily to the fact that it centers on such a shocking act by one individual that affects everyone he cares about. How did the idea for this novel come to you?A few months after my story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, was published, one of the pastors of the Presbyterian church I’d recently joined said she had a story to give me. I was pleased that she’d thought of me, if a bit surprised—I was back in church after a twenty-some-year absence, and still quite skeptical of it all. Yet even to my critical eye it was clear that good things were happening: the congregation was vibrant and progressive and engaged; the co-pastors, a married couple who had both once been university professors, gave sermons that were beautifully crafted and thought-provoking, both intellectual and heartfelt. I’d already come to admire them very much. Still, it happens fairly often that people want to give me stories, and invariably those stories are not mine to tell. So I thanked my pastor, but didn’t think much more about her offer.The next week she stopped me again. I really have to tell you this story, she said, and she did. It was just a few sentences, about a man who’d discovered, late in life, that his brother had been born with Down syndrome, placed in an institution at birth, and kept a secret from his family, even from his own mother, all his life. He’d died in that institution, unknown. I remember being struck by the story even as she told it, and thinking right away that it really would make a good novel. It was the secret at the center of the family that intrigued me. Still, in the very next heartbeat, I thought: Of course, I’ll never write that book.And I didn’t, not for years. The idea stayed with me, however, as the necessary stories do. Eventually, in an unrelated moment, I was invited to do a writing workshop for adults with mental challenges through a Lexington group called Minds Wide Open. I was nervous about doing this, I have to confess. I didn’t have much experience with people who have mental challenges, and I didn’t have any idea of what to expect. As it turned out, we had a wonderful morning, full of expression and surprises and some very fine poetry. At the end of the class, several of the participants hugged me as they left.This encounter made a deep impression on me, and I found myself thinking of this novel idea again, with a greater sense of urgency and interest. Still, it was another year before I started to write it. Then the first chapter came swiftly, almost fully formed, that initial seed having grown tall while I wasn’t really paying attention. In her Paris Reviewinterview, Katherine Anne Porter talks about the event of a story being like a stone thrown in water—she says it’s not the event itself that’s interesting, but rather the ripples the event creates in the lives of characters. I found this to be true. Once I’d written the first chapter, I wanted to find out more about who these people were and what happened to them as a consequence of David’s decision; I couldn’t stop until I knew.Q. Human motivation, the simple question of why we do what we do, is often very complex, as it is here with David and his fateful decision. As his creator, were you able to sympathize in any way with his motives?Oh, yes, certainly. Even though none of us may ever experience a moment this dramatic, nonetheless we all have similar experiences, times when we react powerfully to an event in ways we may not completely understand until much later, if at all.I knew from the beginning that David wasn’t an evil person. He makes absolutely the wrong decision in that first chapter, but even so he acts out of what he believes are good intentions—the desire to protect Norah from grief, and even the desire to do what the medical community in that time and place had deemed best for a child with Down syndrome.There’s much more to this, of course. David’s own grief at the loss of his sister is something he’s never confronted, never resolved. I don’t think this was unusual in that era. Grief counselors, after all, are relatively new. I remember stories, growing up, of adults in my town who had suffered terrible losses. There was a kind of silence around such people. Everyone knew their history, and the imprint of the loss was visible in the unfolding of their lives, but no one ever mentioned the person who had died.So it was with David. His way of coping with the loss of his sister, and with the greater loss of his family that resulted, was to try to move on; to take control of his life and to push forward; to become a success in the eyes of the world. Yet even so, his grief was never far below the surface, and when Phoebe was born with Down syndrome, an event he could not anticipate or control, his old grief welled up. David’s response in that moment is as much to the past as to the present, but it takes him decades, and a trip back to the place where he grew up, to understand this.Q. The novel begins in 1964. Do you think our attitudes toward people with disabilities have changed since then? Are we more enlightened or accepting now?Yes, things have changed for the better over the past decades, but I’d say also that it’s an ongoing process, with much more progress yet to be made.Certainly, writing this novel was a process of enlightenment for me. When I began this book, I didn’t know how to imagine Phoebe. I was compelled by the secret and its impact on the family, but I wasn’t very knowledgeable about Down syndrome. To create a convincing character, one who was herself and not a stereotype, without being either sentimental or patronizing, seemed a daunting task.I started reading and researching. Also, tentatively, I started having conversations. The first couple I spoke with has a daughter whom they’d raised during the time period of this book. They were a terrific help, candid and straightforward and wise. When I showed them the opening chapter, their immediate response was that I’d gotten the doctor exactly right: the attitudes David has about Down syndrome may seem outrageous to us now, but there was a time, not all that long ago, when these ideas were widely held.The reason attitudes have changed, quite simply, is because the parents of children with Down syndrome refused, as Caroline does in this novel, to accept imposed limitations for their children. The fight that Caroline fights during this book is emblematic of struggles that took place all over the country during this era to change prevailing attitudes and to open doors that had been slammed shut.The changes did not and do not happen easily, or without personal costs for those who struggled—and struggle still—to make their children visible to the world. Time and again as I researched this book I heard stories of both heartbreak and great courage. Time and again, also, I was impressed with the expansive generosity of people with Down syndrome and their families, who met with me, shared their life journeys and perceptions, their joys and struggles, and were eager to help me learn. Many of them have read the book and loved it, which for me is a profound measure of its success.Q. Your use of photography as a metaphor throughout the book is artfully done. Do you have a personal interest in photography, or did you educate yourself about it as part of the writing process?I’m not a photographer, but for several years in college I was very good friends with people who were, some of whom, in fact, had darkrooms set up in their houses. Photography was woven into many of our conversations, and I sometimes went with my friends when they were seeking particular shots. I wasn’t at all interested in the mechanics—apertures and f-stops left me cold—but I was always fascinated by the photographs appearing in the developer, what was invisible coaxed into image by the chemical bath. It’s a slow emergence, a kind of birth, really; a moment of mystery. I was intrigued by the use of light, as well, the way too much light will erase an image on both film and paper.I also remember being annoyed, more than once, when my friends’ need to get a photo right interfered with the moment the photo was meant to capture: at a family reunion, for instance, or a birthday party. How did the presence of the photographer change the nature of the moment? What was gained and what was lost by having the eye of the camera present?During the very early stages of writing this novel, I read a New Yorker essay about the photographer Walker Evans that discussed many of these questions quite eloquently, reminding me of my photographer friends. Norah gave David a camera, and from there I started doing quite a lot of research. Amid many other explorations, I spent time at Eastman Kodak Museum in Rochester and read Susan Sontag’s fascinating and inspiring On Photography.Q. The city of Pittsburgh figures quite prominently in the story and is described in very affectionate terms. (“The city of Pittsburgh gleaming suddenly before her . . . so startling in its vastness and its beauty that she had gasped and slowed, afraid of losing control of the car,” p. 91.) This is not a city that usually captures the imagination nor has it been a common setting for novels. Would you talk a bit about why you chose Pittsburgh and your personal connection, if any, to it?I moved to Pittsburgh sight unseen—my husband and I were teaching in Cambodia when he was accepted into a Ph.D. program at The University of Pittsburgh. This was before e-mail; there were no telephones in Phnom Penh, and even electricity was often sporadic. With no clear image of Pittsburgh, we agreed to move there, visions of steel smoke and gritty industrialism hanging like a shadow when he sent in his acceptance.Caroline’s experience crossing the Fort Pitt bridge is my own. It’s a spectacular moment: one emerges from the endless Fort Pitt tunnel onto a bridge spanning the Monogahela River, just before it merges with the Allegheny River and forms the Ohio River. Water gleams everywhere, and the buildings of the city narrow to the point between the rivers, and in the middle distance the greening hills rise up, studded with houses. The director of the MFA program at the University of Pittsburgh once confided to me how much he liked to drive visitors in from the airport, because they were invariably astonished by this view.I spent four years in Pittsburgh and would have happily stayed there had circumstances allowed. It’s a fascinating city, rich with history and parks. It’s a wonderful city for walking, too, with beautiful old neighborhoods and places where you find yourself suddenly standing on a bluff again, gazing out over the ever-changing rivers.Q. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, while ultimately redemptive and hopeful, reveals much of the dark side of the human experience. Actors often talk about how working on a very painful role can affect their psyche; others speak of being able simply to let it go and not have the work affect their daily lives. As a writer, how does working on such a heart-wrenching story affect your own state of mind? When you stop writing, are you able to let it go?Well, the characters all struggle, don’t they? They walk through a lot of darkness. Yet I never found writing this book painful. In part, I think, because I identified with all the characters in this book: the one who keeps a secret and the one from whom secrets have been kept; the parent who longs for a child and the child who longs for harmony and wholeness; the wanderer and the one who stays in place. I recognized their journeys of self-discovery, in any case. I was interested in them, and I wanted to know what happened to them, and who they were. The only way to discover all that was to write the book. Also, because the novel is told through four different points of view, moving from one character’s mind to another, I was able step back from one point of view and work on another whenever I was stuck. This was very liberating, and allowed me to attain a certain level of detachment from one character while working on another.Q. As an award-winning short story writer, you are best known for your critically acclaimed collection The Secrets of a Fire King. Would you talk a bit about how you came to write a novel, and the difference between working on a novel and a short story?When my story collection was published, several reviewers remarked that each one contained the scope of a novel. That interested me, because the stories always felt like stories; I couldn’t imagine them being a word longer than they were. Likewise, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter was a novel from the moment I started writing. Yet despite the difference in complexity and length, writing a novel was very much like writing stories. There’s a bigger canvas in a novel, and thus more room to explore, but it’s still a process of discovery, a leap into the unknown, and an intuitive seeking of the next moment, and the next. For me, writing is never linear, though I do believe quite ardently in revision. I think of revision as a kind of archeology, a deep exploration of the text to discover what’s still hidden and bring it to the surface.Q. Who are some of your favorite authors, and what are you currently reading?I read a great deal. Alice Munro and William Trevor are authors whose work I return to again and again. I have just finished Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and I will read it again soon simply to savor the beauty of the language. New books by both Ursula Hegi and Sue Monk Kidd are on my desk, along with the poems of Pablo Neruda. During the writing of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter I returned to classic novels with secrets at their center, especially Dostoevsky’s extraordinary Crime and Punishment and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. I’m also midway through Thomas Mann’s quartet of novels based on the story of Joseph and his brothers; these archetypal stories are informing the next novel I plan to write, as well.Q. What are you working on now?I have begun a new novel, called The Dream Master. It’s set in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York where I grew up, which is stunningly beautiful, and which remains in some real sense the landscape of my imagination. LikeThe Memory Keeper’s Daughter, this new novel turns on the idea of a secret—that seems to be my preoccupation as a writer—though in this case the event occurred in the past and is a secret from the reader as well as from the characters, so structurally, and in its thematic concerns, the next book is an entirely new discovery.

Editorial Reviews

“Edwards is a born novelist....The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is rich with psychological detail and the nuances of human connection. [An] extraordinary debut.” –Chicago Tribune “Anyone would be struck by the extraordinary power and sympathy of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.” –The Washington Post   “Absolutely mesmerizing.” –Sue Monk Kidd   “Kim Edwards has created a tale of regret and redemption... you have to reread the passages just to be captivated all over again . . .  simply a beautiful book.” –Jodi Picoult   “Kim Edwards writes with great wisdom and compassion.... This is a wonderful, heartbreaking, heart-healing novel.” –Luanne Rice   “A heart-wrenching book, by turns light and dark, literary and suspenseful.” –Library Journal    “A gripping novel, beautifully written.” –Ursula Hegi  “Gripping from its start. Highly accomplished.” –The Guardian (UK)   “A remarkable achievement. [Kim Edwards has] clearly hit a nerve.” –The Independent (UK)   “Masterfully written…a compelling story that explores universal themes: the secrets we harbor, even from those we love; our ability to rationalize all manner of lies; and our fear that there will always be something unknowable about the people we love most.” –The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette    “I devoured it.” –Sena Jeter Naslund